Comprehension of synthetic speech produced by rule: Word monitoring and sentence-by-sentence listening times

J. V. Ralston, D. B. Pisoni, S. E. Lively, B. G. Greene, J. W. Mullennix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


Previous comprehension studies using postperceptual memory tests have often reported negligible differences in performance between natural speech and several kinds of synthetic speech produced by rule, despite large differences in segmental intelligibility. The present experiments investigated the comprehension of natural and synthetic speech using two different on-line tasks: word monitoring and sentence-by-sentence listening. On-line task performance was slower and less accurate for passages of synthetic speech than for passages of natural speech. Recognition memory performance in both experiments was less accurate following passages of synthetic speech than of natural speech. Monitoring performance, sentence listening times, and recognition memory accuracy all showed moderate correlations with intelligibility scores obtained using the Modified Rhyme Test. The results suggest that poorer comprehension of passages of synthetic speech is attributable in part to the greater encoding demands of synthetic speech. In contrast to earlier studies, the present results demonstrate that on-line tasks can be used to measure differences in comprehension performance between natural and synthetic speech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-491
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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