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Language and perceptual control

 Time: Friday, January 18, 2013, 01:30pm - 03:00pm

 Place: Psychology 128 (Conference room)

Beth Casserly

Speech perception is a difficult problem; pervasive variability from co-articulation to sociolinguistic markers and everything in between causes signals to be highly relational and ambiguous, rather than symbolic and sequential. Language production is similarly complex: many parallel streams of information, from word order to prosodic affect to articulatory movements must be juggled and combined seamlessly into fluent, rapid speech. Yet the two processes are also inherently linked, with speakers simultaneously producing language and perceptually monitoring their own performance. This tight coupling between perception and production is typically robust and effective, but perturbations or manipulations of the feedback loop can shed critical light on the mechanisms underlying both processes. In this talk, I present research using a new methodology to examine the links between perception and production in speech: a portable, real-time vocoder that continuously degrades the acoustic information received by speakers. Under this real-time degradation of feedback, subjects show significant declines in fluency, producing speech that is slow and largely devoid of affect, with monotone delivery. These effects, I argue, stem from an increase in cognitive load caused by the difficulty of coping with the feedback perturbation. These results and others like them help us understand how language and other cognitive faculties intersect, and work together in real-world communication.

In category: Phonetics and phonology


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