Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 379–390 | Cite as

Stimulus variability and processing dependencies in speech perception

  • John W. Mullennix
  • David B. Pisoni


Processing dependencies in speech perception between voice and phoneme were investigated using the Garner (1974) speeded classification procedure. Variability in the voice of the talker and in the cues to word-initial consonants were manipulated. The results showed that the processing of a talker’s voice and the perception of voicing are asymmetrically dependent. In addition, when stimulus variability was increased in each dimension, the amount of orthogonal interference obtained for each dimension became significantly larger. The processing asymmetry between voice and phoneme was interpreted in terms of a parallel-contingent relationship of talker normalization processes to auditory-to-phonetic coding processes. The processing of voice information appears to be qualitatively different from the encoding of segmental phonetic information, although they are not independent. Implications of these results for current theories of speech perception are discussed.


  1. Assmann, P. F., Nearey, T. M., &Hogan, J. T. (1982). Vowel identification: Orthographic, perceptual, and acoustic aspects.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,71, 975–989.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Biederman, I. J., &Checkosky, S. F. (1970). Processing redundant information.Journal of Experimental Psychology,83, 486–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blechner, M. J., Day, R. S., &Cutting, J. E. (1976). Processing two dimensions of nonspeech stimuli: The auditory-phonetic distinction reconsidered.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,2, 257–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carr, P. B., &Trill, D. (1964). Long-term larynx-excitation spectra.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,36, 2033–2040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carrell, T. D. (1984).Contributions of fundamental frequency, formain spacing, and glottal waveform to talker identification. Research on Speech Perception (Tech. Rep. No. 5). Bloomington: Indiana University, Department of Psychology.Google Scholar
  6. Carrell, T. D., Smith, L. B., &Pisoni, D. B. (1981). Some perceptual dependencies in speeded classification of vowel color and pitch.Perception & Psychophysics,29, 1–10.Google Scholar
  7. Creelman, C. D. (1957). Case of the unknown talker.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,29, 655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eimas, P. D., Tartter, V. C., Miller, J. L., &Keuthen, N. J. (1978). Asymmetric dependencies in processing phonetic features.Perception & Psychophysics,23, 12–20.Google Scholar
  9. Fant, G. (1973).Speech sounds and features. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Felfoldy, G. L., &Garner, W. R. (1971). The effects on speeded classification of implicit and explicit instructions regarding redundant dimensions.Perception & Psychophysics,9, 289–292.Google Scholar
  11. Fodor, J. A. (1983).The modularity of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  12. Fourcin, A. J. (1968). Speech-source interference.IEEE Transactions on Audio & Electroacoustics, ACC-16, 65–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garner, W. R. (1974).The processing of information and structure. Potomac, MD: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  14. Garner, W. R., &Felfoldy, G. L. (1970). Integrality of stimulus dimensions in various types of information processing.Cognitive Psychology,1, 225–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. House, A. S., Williams, C. E., Hecker, M. H. L., &Kryter, K. D. (1965). Articulation-testing methods: Consonantal differentiation with a closed-response set.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,37, 158–166.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Jogs, M. A. (1948). Acoustic phonetics.Language,24(Suppl. 2), 1–136.Google Scholar
  17. Ladefoged, P. (1980). What are linguistic sounds made of?Language.56, 485–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Martin, C. S., Mullennix, J. W., Pisoni, D. B., &Summers, W. V. (1987). Effects of talker variability on recall of spoken words.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning. Memory, & Cognition,15, 676–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Miller, J. L. (1978). Interactions in processing segmental and suprasegmental features of speech.Perception & Psychophysics,24, 175–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Miller, J. L. (1987). Mandatory processing in speech perception. In J. L. Garfield (Ed.),Modularity in knowledge representation and natural-language understanding (pp. 309–322). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Monsen, R. B., &Engeeretson, A. M. (1977). Study of variations in the male and female glottal wave.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,62, 981–993.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Mullennix, J. W., Pisoni, D. B., &Martin, C. S. (1989). Some effects of talker variability on spoken word recognition.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,85, 365–378.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Nusbaum, H. C., & Morin, T. (1989, May). Perceptual normalization of talker differences. Paper presented at the 117th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Syracuse, NY.Google Scholar
  24. Pastore, R. E., Ahroon, W. A., Puleo, J. S., Crimmins, D. B., Golowner, L., &Berger, R. S. (1976). Processing interaction between two dimensions of nonphonetic auditory signals.Journal of Erperimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,2, 267–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peterson, G. E., &Barney, H. L. (1952). Control methods used in a study of the vowels.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,24, 175–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rand, T. C. (1971). Vocal tract size normalization in the perception of stop consonants.Haskins Laboratories Status Reports on Speech Research, SR-25/26, 141–146.Google Scholar
  27. Smith, L. B., &Kemler, D. G. (1978). Levels of experienced dimensionality in children and adults.Cognitive Psychology,10, 502–532.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Summerfield, Q. (1975).Acoustic and phonetic components of the influence of voice changes and identification times for CVC syllables (Report of Speech Research in Progress, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp.73–98). The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, Ireland.Google Scholar
  29. Summerfield, Q., &Haggard, M. P. (1973).Vocal tract normalisation as demonstrated by reaction times (Report on Research in Progress in Speech Perception Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 1–12). The Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, IrelandGoogle Scholar
  30. Tomiak, G. R., Mullennix, J. W., &Sawusch, J. R. (1987). Integral processing of phonemes: Evidence for a phonetic mode of perception.Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,81, 755–764.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Turvey, M. T. (1973). On peripheral and central processes in vision: Inferences from an information-processing analysis of masking with patterned stimuli.Psychological Review,80, 1–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Verbrugge, R. R., Strange, W., Shankweiler, D. P., &Edman, T. R. (1976). What information enables a listener to map a talker’s vowel space?Journal of the Acoustical Society of America,60, 198–212.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Weenink, D. J. M. (1986). The identification of vowel stimuli from men, women, and children. Proceedings 10 from the Institute of PhoneticSciences of the University of Amsterdam, 41–54.Google Scholar
  34. Wood, C. C. (1974). Parallel processing of auditory and phonetic information in speech discrimination.Perception & Psychophysics,15, 501–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wood, C. C. (1975). A normative model for redundancy gains in speeded classification: Application to auditory and phonetic dimensions in speech discrimination. In F. Restle, R. M. Shiffrin, N. J. Castellan, H. Lindman, & D. B. Pisoni (Eds.),Cognitive Theory (Vol. 1. pp. 55–77). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  36. Wood, C. C., &Day, R. S. (1975). Failure of selective attention to phonetic segments in consonant-vowel syllables.Perception & Psychophysics,17, 346–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Mullennix
    • 1
  • David B. Pisoni
    • 1
  1. 1.Speech Research Laboratory, Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomington

Personalised recommendations