Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 501–516

Improved segregation of simultaneous talkers differentially affects perceptual and cognitive capacity demands for recognizing speech in competing speech

Research Articles

DOI: 10.3758/APP.72.2.501

Cite this article as:
Francis, A.L. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (2010) 72: 501. doi:10.3758/APP.72.2.501


Perception of speech in competing speech is facilitated by spatial separation of the target and distracting speech, but this benefit may arise at either a perceptual or a cognitive level of processing. Load theory predicts different effects of perceptual and cognitive (working memory) load on selective attention in flanker task contexts, suggesting that this paradigm may be used to distinguish levels of interference. Two experiments examined interference from competing speech during a word recognition task under different perceptual and working memory loads in a dual-task paradigm. Listeners identified words produced by a talker of one gender while ignoring a talker of the other gender. Perceptual load was manipulated using a nonspeech response cue, with response conditional upon either one or two acoustic features (pitch and modulation). Memory load was manipulated with a secondary task consisting of one or six visually presented digits. In the first experiment, the target and distractor were presented at different virtual locations (0° and 90°, respectively), whereas in the second, all the stimuli were presented from the same apparent location. Results suggest that spatial cues improve resistance to distraction in part by reducing working memory demand.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Language, and Hearing SciencesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette