ERIC Number: EJ697485
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Infants Are Sensitive to Within-Category Variation in Speech Perception
McMurray, Bob; Aslin, Richard N.
Cognition, v95 n2 pB15-B26 Mar 2005
Previous research on speech perception in both adults and infants has supported the view that consonants are perceived categorically; that is, listeners are relatively insensitive to variation below the level of the phoneme. More recent work, on the other hand, has shown adults to be systematically sensitive to within category variation [McMurray, B., Tanenhaus, M., & Aslin, R. (2002). Gradient effects of within-category phonetic variation on lexical access, "Cognition," 86 (2), B33-B42.]. Additionally, recent evidence suggests that infants are capable of "using" within-category variation to segment speech and to learn phonetic categories. Here we report two studies of 8-month-old infants, using the head-turn preference procedure, that examine more directly infants' sensitivity to within-category variation. Infants were exposed to 80 repetitions of words beginning with either /b/ or /p/. After exposure, listening times to tokens of the same category with small variations in VOT were significantly different than to both the originally exposed tokens and to the cross-category-boundary competitors. Thus infants, like adults, show systematic sensitivity to fine-grained, within-category detail in speech perception.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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