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Significance of pauses for speech perception

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Pauses can be used to facilitate certain operations involved in the production and in the perception of speech. In the case of speech perception, pauses have been found to improve the accuracy of detection and the recall of lists of digits and letters. The aim of the present experiments was to examine the effects of pause time on the perception of sentences. In experiment I, a semantic categorization task was used and in experiment II a sentence recall task. The results indicated that in sentences containing pauses between clauses, words were categorized more rapidly (experiment I) and propositions were recalled more accurately (experiment II) than in sentences containing pauses, within the clause. The results are interpreted in the context of existing models of speech processing, and the significane of pause time for cognitive activity is discussed.

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Reich, S.S. Significance of pauses for speech perception. J Psycholinguist Res 9, 379–389 (1980).

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