Stimulus variability and spoken word recognition. I. Effects of variability in speaking rate and overall amplitude

Mitchell S. Sommers, Lynne C. Nygaard, David B. Pisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations


The present experiments investigated how several different sources of stimulus variability within speech signals affect spoken-word recognition. The effects of varying talker characteristics, speaking rate, and overall amplitude on identification performance were assessed by comparing spoken-word recognition scores for contexts with and without variability along a specified stimulus dimension. Identification scores for word lists produced by single talkers were significantly better than for the identical items produced in multiple-talker contexts. Similarly, recognition scores for words produced at a single speaking rate were significantly better than for the corresponding mixed-rate condition. Simultaneous variations in both speaking rate and talker characteristics produced greater reductions in perceptual identification scores than variability along either dimension alone. In contrast, variability in the overall amplitude of test items over a 30-dB range did not significantly alter spoken-word recognition scores. The results provide evidence for one or more resource-demanding normalization processes which function to maintain perceptual constancy by compensating for acoustic-phonetic variability in speech signals that can affect phonetic identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1314-1324
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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