Articulatory and Acoustic Correlates of Contrastive Focus in Congenitally Blind Adults and Sighted Adults Purpose The role of vision in speech representation was investigated in congenitally blind speakers and sighted speakers by studying the correlates of contrastive focus, a prosodic condition in which phonemic contrasts are enhanced. It has been reported that the lips (visible articulators) are less involved in implementing the rounding feature ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2014
Articulatory and Acoustic Correlates of Contrastive Focus in Congenitally Blind Adults and Sighted Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lucie Ménard
    Center for Research on Brain, Language, and Music, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Annie Leclerc
    Center for Research on Brain, Language, and Music, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Mark Tiede
    Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Lucie Ménard: menard.lucie@uqam.ca
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Anne Smith
    Associate Editor: Anne Smith×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2014
Articulatory and Acoustic Correlates of Contrastive Focus in Congenitally Blind Adults and Sighted Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 793-804. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-12-0395
History: Received December 11, 2012 , Revised June 28, 2013 , Accepted October 29, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2014, Vol. 57, 793-804. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-12-0395
History: Received December 11, 2012; Revised June 28, 2013; Accepted October 29, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

Purpose The role of vision in speech representation was investigated in congenitally blind speakers and sighted speakers by studying the correlates of contrastive focus, a prosodic condition in which phonemic contrasts are enhanced. It has been reported that the lips (visible articulators) are less involved in implementing the rounding feature for blind speakers. If the weight of visible gestures in speech representation is reduced in blind speakers, they should show different strategies to mark focus-induced prominence.

Method Nine congenitally blind French speakers and 9 sighted French speakers were recorded while uttering sentences in neutral and contrastive focus conditions. Internal lip area, upper lip protrusion, and acoustic values (formants, fundamental frequency, duration, and intensity) were measured.

Results In the acoustic domain, both groups signaled focus by using comparable values of fundamental frequency, intensity, and duration. Formant values in sighted speakers were more affected by the prosodic condition. In the articulatory domain, sighted speakers significantly altered lip geometry in the contrastive focus condition compared with the neutral condition, whereas blind speakers did not.

Conclusion These results suggest that implementation of prosodic focus is affected by congenital visual deprivation. The authors discuss how these findings can be interpreted in the framework of the perception-for-action-control theory.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by grants from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors thank Jean-Luc Schwartz for his comments on earlier versions. Thanks to Marlene Busko for copyediting the manuscript.
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