INTERSPEECH 2012
13th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Portland, OR, USA
September 9-13, 2012

Perceptual Learning of /f/-/s/ by Older Listeners

Odette Scharenborg (1,2), Esther Janse (3,1,2), Andrea Weber (1,2)

(1) Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
(2) Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
(3) Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Young listeners can quickly modify their interpretation of a speech sound when a talker produces the sound ambiguously. Young Dutch listeners rely mainly on the higher frequencies to distinguish between /f/ and /s/, but these higher frequencies are particularly vulnerable to age-related hearing loss. We therefore tested whether older Dutch listeners can show perceptual retuning given an ambiguous pronunciation in between /f/ and /s/. Results of a lexically-guided perceptual learning experiment showed that older Dutch listeners are still able to learn non-standard pronunciations of /f/ and /s/. Possibly, the older listeners have learned to rely on other acoustic cues, such as formant transitions, to distinguish between /f/ and /s/. However, the size and duration of the perceptual effect is influenced by hearing loss, with listeners with poorer hearing showing a smaller and a shorter-lived learning effect.

Index Terms: perceptual learning, older listeners, aging, hearing loss, human word recognition.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Scharenborg, Odette / Janse, Esther / Weber, Andrea (2012): "Perceptual learning of /f/-/s/ by older listeners", In INTERSPEECH-2012, 398-401.