8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

What do Listeners Attend to in Hearing Prosodic Structures? Investigating the Human Speech-Parser Using Short-Term Recall

Annie C. Gilbert, Victor J. Boucher

Université de Montréal, Canada

This study examines how heard prosodic patterns are parsed by reference to a principle of focus of attention [1]. According to this principle, attention holds up to four items at once, and the same upper limit appears to apply to the number of syllables in rhythm groups [2]. On this basis it was predicted that in recalling heard prosodic structures, listeners would attend primarily to rhythm groups. 31 Ss were asked to recall the prosody of heard series of [pa] bearing various intonation groups and repetitive or varying rhythms. Exp. 1 showed how the focus of attention can shift when rhythm patterns are repetitive. However, Exp. 2 showed that listeners focus on rhythm when patterns vary (as in speech). The results bear implications on explaining the role of prosodic groups in speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gilbert, Annie C. / Boucher, Victor J. (2007): "What do listeners attend to in hearing prosodic structures? investigating the human speech-parser using short-term recall", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 430-433.