Alison K. Baldwin
Howard C. Nusbaum
Dept. of Psychol., Univ. of Chicago, 5848 S. University Ave., Chicago, IL 60637
Previous research on perceptual learning of synthetic speech and non-native phonetic contrasts suggests that listeners shift the focus of their attention from one set of acoustic cues to another, although this hypothesis has never been tested directly. The present study was carried out to determine whether training could alter perception of stop-consonant place of articulation of shifting attention from a transition cue to the spectral shape of the release burst. CV syllables were synthesized with transitions specifying one place of articulation and release burst shape specifying another. One group of subjects was given feedback consistent with the category specified by the transitions; the other group was given feedback consistent with the bursts. Although subjects initially tended to respond based on transition cues, feedback was effective for both groups. Furthermore, for subjects who showed learning, attentional changes also generalized to the same phonetic categories in new vowel contexts. The implications of these results for theories of speech perception and perceptual learning will be discussed.