, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 206-219

Effects of talker, rate, and amplitude variation on recognition memory for spoken words


This study investigated the encoding of the surface form of spoken words using a continuous recognition memory task. The purpose was to compare and contrast three sources of stimulus variability—talker, speaking rate, and overall amplitude—to determine the extent to which each source of variability is retained in episodic memory. In Experiment 1, listeners judged whether each word in a list of spoken words was “old” (had occurred previously in the list) or “new.” Listeners were more accurate at recognizing a word as old if it was repeated by the same talker and at the same speaking rate; however, there was no recognition advantage for words repeated at the same overall amplitude. In Experiment 2, listeners were first asked to judge whether each word was old or new, as before, and then they had to explicitly judge whether it was repeated by the same talker, at the same rate, or at the same amplitude. On the first task, listeners again showed an advantage in recognition memory for words repeated by the same talker and at same speaking rate, but no advantage occurred for the amplitude condition. However, in all three conditions, listeners were able to explicitly detect whether an old word was repeated by the same talker, at the same rate, or at the same amplitude. These data suggest that although information about all three properties of spoken words is encoded and retained in memory, each source of stimulus variation differs in the extent to which it affects episodic memory for spoken words.

This research was supported by NIDCD Training Grant DC-00012 and NIDCD Research Grant DC-00111 to Indiana University. We are grateful to Luis Hernandez for technical support and to Thomas Palmeri for programming assistance. An earlier version of this study was presented at the 131 st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Indianapolis, May 1996.