This study examines how heard prosodic patterns are parsed by reference to a principle of focus of attention . 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 . 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.
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.