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    Effects of language experience on domain-general perceptual strategies

    Jasmin, Kyle and Sun, Hui and Tierney, Adam (2021) Effects of language experience on domain-general perceptual strategies. Cognition 206 (104481), ISSN 0010-0277.

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    Speech and music are highly redundant communication systems, with multiple acoustic cues signaling the existence of perceptual categories. This redundancy makes these systems robust to the influence of noise, but necessitates the development of perceptual strategies: listeners need to decide the importance to place on each source of information. Prior empirical work and modeling has suggested that cue weights primarily reflect within-task statistical learning, as listeners assess the reliability with which different acoustic dimensions signal a category and modify their weights accordingly. Here we present evidence that perceptual experience can lead to changes in cue weighting which extend across tasks and across domains, suggesting that perceptual strategies reflect both global biases and local (i.e. task-specific) learning. In two experiments, native speakers of Mandarin (N=45)—where pitch is a crucial cue to word identity—placed more importance on pitch and less importance on other dimensions compared to native speakers of non-tonal languages English (N=45) and Spanish (N=27), during the perception of both second language speech and musical beats. In a third experiment, we further show that Mandarin speakers are better able to attend to pitch and ignore irrelevant variation in other dimensions compared to English and Spanish speakers, and even struggle to ignore pitch when asked to attend to other dimensions. Thus, an individual’s idiosyncratic auditory perceptual strategies reflect a complex mixture of congenital predispositions, task-specific learning, and biases instilled by extensive experience in making use of important dimensions in their native language.


    Item Type: Article
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Adam Tierney
    Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2020 13:10
    Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 17:59


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