ASA 126th Meeting Denver 1993 October 4-8

5aSP25. A multidimensional scaling analysis of vowel discrimination in humans and monkeys.

Joan M. Sinnott Charles H. Brown Regina A. Kressley

Comparative Hear. Lab., Dept. of Psychol., Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile, AL 36688

Five humans and three African Sykes' monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis) discriminated among the ten English vowels using a repeating background procedure. Human subjects are four native American-English speakers and one non-native Hispanic speaker. Reaction times were input to a multidimensional scaling analysis (ALSCAL) in order to derive a measure of perceived similarity or dissimilarity among the vowels. For all subjects, including monkeys, the front vowels were the most distinguishable vowel group, while the central and back vowels were less clearly differentiated. The Hispanic speaker performed similarly to the native American English speakers, although Spanish does not differentiate among the spectrally similar vowels of English. One difference that emerged between humans and monkeys was that humans appeared more sensitive than monkeys to first formant changes in the front vowels. [Work supported by NIDCD.]