Effects of cognitive workload on speech production: Acoustic analyses and perceptual consequences

Scott E. Lively, David B. Pisoni, W. Van Summers, Robert H. Bernacki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations


The present investigation examined the effects of cognitive workload on speech production. Workload was manipulated by having talkers perform a compensatory visual tracking task while speaking test sentences of the form 'Say hVd again.' Acoustic measurements were made to compare utterances produced under workload with the same utterances produced in a control condition. In the workload condition, some talkers produced utterances with increased amplitude and amplitude variability, decreased spectral tilt and F0 variability and increased speaking rate. No changes in F1, F2, or F3 were observed across conditions for any of the talkers. These findings indicate both laryngeal and sublaryngeal adjustments in articulation, as well as modifications in the absolute timing of articulatory gestures. The results of a perceptual identification experiment paralleled the acoustic measurements. Small but significant advantages in intelligibility were observed for utterances produced under workload for talkers who showed robust changes in speech production. Changes in amplitude and amplitude variability for utterances produced under workload appeared to be the major factor controlling intelligibility. The results of the present investigation support the assumptions of Lindblom's ['Explaining phonetic variation: A sketch of the H and H theory,' in Speech Production and Speech Modeling (Klewer Academic, The Netherlands, 1990)] H and H model: Talkers adapt their speech to suit the demands of the environment and these modifications are designed to maximize intelligibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2962-2973
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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