, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 355-376

Talker-specific learning in speech perception

Abstract

The effects of perceptual learning of talker identity on the recognition of spoken words and sentences were investigated in three experiments. In each experiment, listeners were trained to learn a set of 10 talkers’ voices and were then given an intelligibility test to assess the influence of learning the voices on the processing of the linguistic content of speech. In the first experiment, listeners learned voices from isolated words and were then tested with novel isolated words mixed in noise. The results showed that listeners who were given words produced by familiar talkers at test showed better identification performance than did listeners who were given words produced by unfamiliar talkers. In the second experiment, listeners learned novel voices from sentence-length utterances and were then presented with isolated words. The results showed that learning a talker’s voice from sentences did not generalize well to identification of novel isolated words. In the third experiment, listeners learned voices from sentence-length utterances and were then given sentence-length utterances produced by familiar and unfamiliar talkers at test. We found that perceptual learning of novel voices from sentence-length utterances improved speech intelligibility for words in sentences. Generalization and transfer from voice learning to linguistic processing was found to be sensitive to the talker-specific information available during learning and test. These findings demonstrate that increased sensitivity to talker-specific information affects the perception of the linguistic properties of speech in isolated words and sentences.

This research was supported by NIDCD Research Grant DC-00111 and NIDCD Research Training Grant DC-00012 to Indiana University. Portions of this research were presented at the 125th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Ottawa and at the XHIth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Stockholm.