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    Informational masking influences segmental and suprasegmental speech categorization

    Symons, Ashley and Tierney, Adam (2023) Informational masking influences segmental and suprasegmental speech categorization. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review , ISSN 1069-9384.

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    Auditory categorization requires listeners to integrate acoustic information from multiple dimensions. Attentional theories suggest that acoustic dimensions that are informative attract attention and therefore receive greater perceptual weight during categorization. However, the acoustic environment is often noisy, with multiple sound sources competing for listeners’ attention. Amid these adverse conditions, attentional theories predict that listeners will distribute attention more evenly across multiple dimensions. Here we test this prediction using an informational masking paradigm. In two experiments, listeners completed suprasegmental (focus) and segmental (voicing) speech categorization tasks in quiet or in the presence of competing speech. In both experiments, the target speech consisted of short words or phrases that varied in the extent to which fundamental frequency (F0) and durational information signalled category identity. To isolate effects of informational masking, target and competing speech were presented in opposite ears. Across both experiments, there was substantial individual variability in the relative weighting of the two dimensions. These individual differences were consistent across listening conditions, suggesting that they reflect stable perceptual strategies. Consistent with attentional theories of auditory categorization, listeners who relied on a single primary dimension in quiet shifted towards integrating across multiple dimensions in the presence of competing speech. These findings demonstrate that listeners make greater use of the redundancy present in speech when attentional resources are limited.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Adam Tierney
    Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2023 15:39
    Last Modified: 28 Sep 2023 23:40


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