Tempo of Spectrum Change as a Cue in Speech-Sound Discrimination by Infants Six- to seven-month-old infants were tested on their ability to discriminate among three speech sounds which differed on the basis of formant-transition duration, a major cue to distinctions among stop, semivowel and diphthong classes. The three speech sounds, [bε], [wε], and [uε] were produced in two different ways. The stimuli ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 01, 1979
Tempo of Spectrum Change as a Cue in Speech-Sound Discrimination by Infants
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • James Hillenbrand
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Fred D. Minifie
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Thomas J. Edwards
    University of Washington, Seattle
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 01, 1979
Tempo of Spectrum Change as a Cue in Speech-Sound Discrimination by Infants
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 1979, Vol. 22, 147-165. doi:10.1044/jshr.2201.147
History: Received February 6, 1978 , Accepted July 31, 1978
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 1979, Vol. 22, 147-165. doi:10.1044/jshr.2201.147
History: Received February 6, 1978; Accepted July 31, 1978

Six- to seven-month-old infants were tested on their ability to discriminate among three speech sounds which differed on the basis of formant-transition duration, a major cue to distinctions among stop, semivowel and diphthong classes. The three speech sounds, [bε], [wε], and [uε] were produced in two different ways. The stimuli for one experiment were two-formant synthetic tokens which differed in formant-transition duration. The stimuli for a second experiment were produced with a computer-modification technique which artificially shortened or lengthened the formant-transition portion of a naturally produced [wɛ], resulting in tokens of [bɛ] and [uɛ]. The discrimination procedure involved visual reinforcement of a head-turn response following a change from a repeating background stimulus to a contrasting stimulus. Infants in both experiments discriminated [bɛ] from both [wɛ] and [uɛ]; evidence for [wε]-[uɛ] discrimination was obtained for the “computer modified” tokens only. These findings are discussed in terms of possible mechanisms underlying speech perception in infancy.

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