Changes in the McGurk Effect Across Phonetic Contexts
Guenther, Frank H.
Cohen, Michael A.
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To investigate the process underlying audiovisual speech perception, the McGurk illusion was examined across a range of phonetic contexts. Two major changes were found. First, the frequency of illusory /g/ fusion percepts increased relative to the frequency of illusory /d/ fusion percepts as vowel context was shifted from /i/ to /a/ to /u/. This trend could not be explained by biases present in perception of the unimodal visual stimuli. However, the change found in the McGurk fusion effect across vowel environments did correspond systematically with changes in second format frequency patterns across contexts. Second, the order of consonants in illusory combination percepts was found to depend on syllable type. This may be due to differences occuring across syllable contexts in the timecourses of inputs from the two modalities as delaying the auditory track of a vowel-consonant stimulus resulted in a change in the order of consonants perceived. Taken together, these results suggest that the speech perception system either fuses audiovisual inputs into a visually compatible percept with a similar second formant pattern to that of the acoustic stimulus or interleaves the information from different modalities, at a phonemic or subphonemic level, based on their relative arrival times.