Asymmetric discrimination of nonspeech tonal analogues of vowels
Zhao, T. Christina
Morgan, James L.
MetadataShow full item record
Citation (published version)Matthew Masapollo, T Christina Zhao, Lauren Franklin, James L Morgan. "Asymmetric discrimination of nonspeech tonal analogues of vowels." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp. 285 - 300. https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000603
Directional asymmetries reveal a universal bias in vowel perception favoring extreme vocalic articulations, which lead to acoustic vowel signals with dynamic formant trajectories and well-defined spectral prominences due to the convergence of adjacent formants. The present experiments investigated whether this bias reflects speech-specific processes or general properties of spectral processing in the auditory system. Toward this end, we examined whether analogous asymmetries in perception arise with non-speech tonal analogues that approximate some of the dynamic and static spectral characteristics of naturally-produced /u/ vowels executed with more versus less extreme lip gestures. We found a qualitatively similar but weaker directional effect with two-component tones varying in both the dynamic changes and proximity of their spectral energies. In subsequent experiments, we pinned down the phenomenon using tones that varied in one or both of these two acoustic characteristics. We found comparable asymmetries with tones that differed exclusively in their spectral dynamics, and no asymmetries with tones that differed exclusively in their spectral proximity or both spectral features. We interpret these findings as evidence that dynamic spectral changes are a critical cue for eliciting asymmetries in non-speech tone perception, but that the potential contribution of general auditory processes to asymmetries in vowel perception is limited.
Published in final edited form as: J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2019 February ; 45(2): 285–300. doi:10.1037/xhp0000603.