Tracking the time course of phonetic cue integration during spoken word recognition
Speech perception requires listeners to integrate multiple cues that each contribute to judgments about a phonetic category. Classic studies of trading relations assessed the weights attached to each cue but did not explore the time course of cue integration. Here, we provide the first direct evidence that asynchronous cues to voicing (/b/ vs. /p/) and manner (/b/ vs. /w/) contrasts become available to the listener at different times during spoken word recognition. Using the visual world paradigm, we show that the probability of eye movements to pictures of target and of competitor objects diverge at different points in time after the onset of the target word. These points of divergence correspond to the availability of early (voice onset time or formant transition slope) and late (vowel length) cues to voicing and manner contrasts. These results support a model of cue integration in which phonetic cues are used for lexical access as soon as they are available.
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