Short-term exposure enhances perception of both between- and within-category acoustic information

Jessie S. Nixon, Natalie Boll-Avetisyan, Tomas O. Lentz, Sandrien van Ommen, Brigitta Keij, Çağri Çöltekin, Liquan Liu, Jacolien van Rij


A critical question in speech research is how listeners use non-discrete acoustic cues for discrimination between discrete alternative messages (e.g. words). Previous studies have shown that distributional learning can improve listeners’ discrimination of non-native speech sounds. Less is known about effects of training on perception of within-category acoustic detail. The present research investigates adult listeners’ perception of and discrimination between lexical tones without training or after a brief training exposure. Native speakers of German (a language without lexical tone) heard a 13-step pitch continuum of the syllable /li:/. Two different tasks were used to assess sensitivity to acoustic differences on this continuum: a) pitch height estimation and b) AX discrimination. Participants performed these tasks either without exposure or after exposure to a bimodal distribution of the pitch continuum. The AX discrimination results show that exposure to a bimodal distribution enhanced discrimination at the category boundary (i.e. categorical perception) of high vs. low tones. Interestingly, the pitch estimation task results followed a categorisation (sigmoid) function without exposure, but a linear function after exposure, suggesting estimates became less categorical in this task. The results suggest that training exposure may enhance not only discrimination between contrastive speech sounds (consistent with previous studies), but also perception of within-category acoustic differences. Different tasks may reveal different skills.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-23

Cite as: Nixon, J.S., Boll-Avetisyan, N., Lentz, T.O., van Ommen, S., Keij, B., Çöltekin, Ç., Liu, L., van Rij, J. (2018) Short-term exposure enhances perception of both between- and within-category acoustic information. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 114-118, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-23.


@inproceedings{Nixon2018,
  author={Jessie S. Nixon and Natalie {Boll-Avetisyan} and Tomas O. Lentz and Sandrien {van Ommen} and Brigitta Keij and Çağri Çöltekin and Liquan Liu and Jacolien {van Rij}},
  title={Short-term exposure enhances perception of both between- and within-category acoustic information},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={114--118},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-23},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-23}
}