A general auditory bias for handling speaker variability in speech? Evidence in humans and songbirds

Kriengwatana, B. , Escudero, P., Kerkhoven, A. H. and ten Cate, C. (2015) A general auditory bias for handling speaker variability in speech? Evidence in humans and songbirds. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1243. (doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01243) (PMID:26379579) (PMCID:PMC4548094)

[img] Text
258465.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Different speakers produce the same speech sound differently, yet listeners are still able to reliably identify the speech sound. How listeners can adjust their perception to compensate for speaker differences in speech, and whether these compensatory processes are unique only to humans, is still not fully understood. In this study we compare the ability of humans and zebra finches to categorize vowels despite speaker variation in speech in order to test the hypothesis that accommodating speaker and gender differences in isolated vowels can be achieved without prior experience with speaker-related variability. Using a behavioral Go/No-go task and identical stimuli, we compared Australian English adults’ (naïve to Dutch) and zebra finches’ (naïve to human speech) ability to categorize / I/ and /ε/ vowels of an novel Dutch speaker after learning to discriminate those vowels from only one other speaker. Experiments 1 and 2 presented vowels of two speakers interspersed or blocked, respectively. Results demonstrate that categorization of vowels is possible without prior exposure to speaker-related variability in speech for zebra finches, and in non-native vowel categories for humans. Therefore, this study is the first to provide evidence for what might be a species-shared auditory bias that may supersede speaker-related information during vowel categorization. It additionally provides behavioral evidence contradicting a prior hypothesis that accommodation of speaker differences is achieved via the use of formant ratios. Therefore, investigations of alternative accounts of vowel normalization that incorporate the possibility of an auditory bias for disregarding inter-speaker variability are warranted.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kriengwatana, Dr Pralle
Authors: Kriengwatana, B., Escudero, P., Kerkhoven, A. H., and ten Cate, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Frontiers in Psychology
Publisher:Frontiers Media
ISSN (Online):1664-1078
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Kriengwatana, Escudero, Kerkhoven and Ten Cate
First Published:First published in Frontiers in Psychology 6: 1243
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record