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Speech perception is heavily influenced by acoustic context effects, where perception of a sound is influenced by acoustic properties of surrounding sounds. Talker variability, or the acoustic variability among different talkers, can disrupt these context effects. Studies have shown that talker variability does impact Spectral Contrast Effects (SCEs; an acoustic context effect induced by variations in frequency), but it is unknown if Temporal Contrast Effects (TCEs; an acoustic context effect induced by speech rate) are similarly affected. To test this, on each trial, listeners heard a context sentence (spoken at a fast or slow rate) followed by the target word which they identified as “deer” or “tier”. Context sentences differed across three blocks (One Talker/One Sentence, One Talker/200 Sentences, and 200 Talkers/200 Sentences). TCEs were calculated as the percent “tier” responses following fast sentences (where more “tier” responses are expected) minus the percent “tier” responses following slow sentences (where fewer “tier” responses are expected). Talker variability significantly influenced TCEs, with larger TCEs in the One Talker/One Sentence block than the 200 Talkers/200 Sentences block. Thus, TCEs pattern similarly to SCEs in that talker variability decreases the sizes of acoustic context effects in speech perception.

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Speech Perception; Temporal Contrast Effects; Talker Variability; Context Effects; Speaking Rates


Cognition and Perception

The Role of Talker in Adjusting for Different Speaking Rates in Speech Perception