Evidence for selective adaptation and recalibration in the perception of lexical stress


Individuals vary in how they produce speech. This variability affects both the segments (vowels and consonants) and the suprasegmental properties of their speech (prosody). Previous literature has demonstrated that listeners can adapt to variability in how different talkers pronounce the segments of speech. This study shows that listeners can also adapt to variability in how talkers produce lexical stress. Experiment 1 demonstrates a selective adaptation effect in lexical stress perception- repeatedly hearing Dutch trochaic words biased perception of a subsequent lexical stress continuum towards more iamb responses. Experiment 2 demonstrates a recalibrationeffect in lexical stress perception- when ambiguous suprasegmental cues to lexical stress were disambiguated by lexical orthographic context as signaling a trochaic word in an exposure phase, Dutch participants categorized a subsequent test continuum as more trochee-like. Moreover, the selective adaptation and recalibration effects generalized to novel words, not encountered during exposure. Together, the experiments demonstrate that listeners also flexibly adapt to variability in the suprasegmental properties of speech, thus expanding our understanding of the utility of listener adaptation in speech perception. Moreover, the combined outcomes speak for an architecture of spoken word recognition involving abstract prosodic representations at a prelexical level of analysis.

Language and Speech 65(2), 472-490, doi:10.1177/00238309211030307
Hans Rutger Bosker
Hans Rutger Bosker
Assistant Professor

My research interests include speech perception, audiovisual integration, and prosody.