Studies with adults have demonstrated that acoustic cues cohere in speech perception such that two stimuli cannot be discriminated if separate cues bias responses equally, but oppositely, in each. This study examined whether this kind of coherence exists for children’s perception of speech signals, a test that first required that a contrast be found for which adults and children show similar cue weightings. Accordingly, experiment 1 demonstrated that adults, 7-, and 5-year-olds weight F2-onset frequency and gap duration similarly in “spa” versus “sa” decisions. In experiment 2, listeners of these same ages made “same” or “not-the-same” judgments for pairs of stimuli in an AX paradigm when only one cue differed, when the two cues were set within a stimulus to bias the phonetic percept towards the same category (relative to the other stimulus in the pair), and when the two cues were set within a stimulus to bias the phonetic percept towards different categories. Unexpectedly, adults’ results contradicted earlier studies: They were able to discriminate stimuli when the two cues conflicted in how they biased phonetic percepts. Results for 7-year-olds replicated those of adults, but were not as strong. Only the results of 5-year-olds revealed the kind of perceptual coherence reported by earlier studies for adults. Thus, it is concluded that perceptual coherence for speech signals is present from an early age, and in fact listeners learn to overcome it under certain conditions.
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October 01 2001
Coherence in children’s speech perception
Susan Nittrouer, Court S. Crowther; Coherence in children’s speech perception. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 October 2001; 110 (4): 2129–2140. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.1404974
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