Information for coarticulation: Static signal properties or formant dynamics?

Navin Viswanathan, James S. Magnuson, Carol A. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Perception of a speech segment changes depending on properties of surrounding segments in a phenomenon called compensation for coarticulation (Mann, 1980). The nature of information that drives these perceptual changes is a matter of debate. One account attributes perceptual shifts to low-level auditory system contrast effects based on static portions of the signal (e.g., third formant [F3] center or average frequency; Lotto & Kluender, 1998). An alternative account is that listeners' perceptual shifts result from listeners attuning to the acoustic effects of gestural overlap and that this information for coarticulation is necessarily dynamic (Fowler, 2006). In a pair of experiments, we used sinewave speech precursors to investigate the nature of information for compensation for coarticulation. In Experiment 1, as expected by both accounts, we found that sinewave speech precursors produce shifts in following segments. In Experiment 2, we investigated whether effects in Experiment 1 were driven by static F3 offsets of sinewave speech precursors, or by dynamic relationships among their formants. We temporally reversed F1 and F2 in sinewave precursors, preserving static F3 offset and average F1, F2 and F3 frequencies, but disrupting dynamic formant relationships. Despite having identical F3s, selectively reversed precursors produced effects that were significantly smaller and restricted to only a small portion of the continuum. We conclude that dynamic formant relations rather than static properties of the precursor provide information for compensation for coarticulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1228-1236
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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