Discrimination of speaker size from syllable phrases

  • Ives D
  • Smith D
  • Patterson R
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Abstract

The length of the vocal tract is correlated with speaker size and, so, speech sounds have information about the size of the speaker in a form that is interpretable by the listener. A wide range of different vocal tract lengths exist in the population and humans are able to distinguish speaker size from the speech. Smith et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 117, 305-318 (2005)] presented vowel sounds to listeners and showed that the ability to discriminate speaker size extends beyond the normal range of speaker sizes which suggests that information about the size and shape of the vocal tract is segregated automatically at an early stage in the processing. This paper reports an extension of the size discrimination research using a much larger set of speech sounds, namely, 180 consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant syllables. Despite the pronounced increase in stimulus variability, there was actually an improvement in discrimination performance over that supported by vowel sounds alone. Performance with vowel-consonant syllables was slightly better than with consonant-vowel syllables. These results support the hypothesis that information about the length of the vocal tract is segregated at an early stage in auditory processing.

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Authors

  • D Timothy Ives

  • David R R Smith

  • Roy D Patterson

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