Adult listeners’ processing of indexical versus linguistic differences in a pre-attentive discrimination paradigm

Rozmin Dadwani, Varghese Peter, Katerina Chladkova, Andrea Geambasu, Paola Escudero

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

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The human ability to comprehend speech regardless of variation across speakers and accents has long puzzled researchers. Human listeners appear to employ separate mechanisms to cope with speaker versus accent variation. The present
study uses event-related potentials (ERP) to test whether such different mechanisms exist at a preattentive level of speech processing. We assessed Australian English monolinguals’ and bilinguals’ perceptual sensitivity to four types of variation in vowels: namely, variation in speaker identity, gender, accent, and vowel category. Interestingly, listeners showed similar results
regardless of their linguistic background. As expected, listeners showed large sensitivity to accent changes. Rather surprisingly, however, they were more sensitive to changes in speaker gender than to changes in vowel category. These results are not in line with those of overt vowel classification but are explained by adults’ sensitivity to large differences in voice quality when discriminating speech sounds.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences Glasgow
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherThe University of Glasgow
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780852619414
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational congress of phonetic sciences (18th : 2015) - Glasgow, UK
Duration: 10 Aug 201514 Aug 2015


ConferenceInternational congress of phonetic sciences (18th : 2015)
CityGlasgow, UK


  • pre-attentive discrimination
  • indexical vs linguistic information
  • vowels
  • MMN


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