October 20, 2020

Calibration of consonant perception to room reverberation

Purpose: We examined how consonant perception is affected by a preceding speech carrier simulated in the same or a different room, for a broad range of consonants. Carrier room, carrier length, and carrier length/target room uncertainty were manipulated. A phonetic feature analysis tested which phonetic categories are most influenced by the acoustic context of the carrier. Method: Two experiments were performed, each with 9 participants. Targets consisted of vowel-consonant (VC) syllables presented in one of 2 strongly reverberant rooms, preceded by a VC carrier presented either in the same room, a different reverberant room, or an anechoic room. In Experiment 1 the carrier length and the target room randomly varied from trial to trial while in Experiment 2 they were fixed within blocks of trials. Results: Compared to the no-carrier condition, a consistent carrier provided only a small advantage for consonant perception, whereas inconsistent carriers disrupted performance significantly. For a different-room carrier, carrier length had an effect; performance dropped significantly in the 2-VC compared to the 4-VC carrier length. The only effect of carrier uncertainty was an overall drop in performance. Phonetic analysis showed that an inconsistent carrier significantly degraded identification of the manner of articulation, especially for stop consonants, and, in one of the rooms, also of voicing. Conclusions: Calibration of consonant perception to strong reverberation is exhibited through disruptions in perception when the room is switched. The strength of calibration varies across different consonants and phonetic features, as well as across rooms and durations of exposure to a given room.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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