Visual speech processing

Word‐decoding and word‐discrimination related to sentence‐based speechreading and hearing‐impairment


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    Two aspects of visual speech processing in speechreading (word decoding and word discrimination) were tested in a group of 24 normal hearing and a group of 20 hearing‐impaired subjects. Word decoding and word discrimination performance were independent of factors related to the impairment, both in a quantitative and a qualitative sense. Decoding skill, but not discrimination skill, was associated with sentence‐based speechreading. The results were interpreted such that, in order to represent a critical component process in sentence‐based speechreading, the visual speech perception task must entail lexically induced processing as a task‐demand. The theoretical status of the word decoding task as one operationalization of a speech decoding module was discussed (Fodor, 1983). An error analysis of performance in the word decoding/discrimination tasks suggested that the perception of heard stimuli, as well as the perception of lipped stimuli, were critically dependent on the same features; that is, the temporally initial phonetic segment of the word (cf. Marslen‐Wilson, 1987). Implications for a theory of visual speech perception were discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-17
    Number of pages9
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1991


    • hearing‐impairment
    • speech‐reading
    • Word‐decoding
    • word‐discrimination

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