ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

3aSP1. Extending the perceptual magnet effect to a CVC word context.

Richard Eyraud

Patricia K. Kuhl

Dept. of Speech and Hear. Sci., WJ-10, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

Recent research by Kuhl and her colleagues has demonstrated a perceptual magnet effect in vowels and consonants suggesting that perceptual organization is strongly influenced by category goodness. Equidistant stimuli cluster around the best exemplars of a category, demonstrating poorer discriminability and decreased perceptual distances. Conversely, regions surrounding the worst exemplars of a category are ``stretched,'' demonstrating relatively better discriminability and increased perceptual distances. The present experiments extend this finding to a word context by investigating the perceptual organization of the American English vowel /i/ in isolation and in a CVC word context, specifically /bid/. In the vowel experiment, eight variants of /i/ were synthesized by independently changing F1 and F2. Similarly, in the CVC word experiment, eight variants of the word /bid/ were synthesized by independently changing the vowel steady states of F1 and F2. Adult monolingual speakers were asked to judge the goodness of each variant and the similarity of paired tokens on a seven-point scale. Multidimensional scaling analyses demonstrated a similar perceptual magnet effect in both the vowel and CVC word experiments. These results suggest that the perceptual magnet effect observed with phonetic units extends to the lexical level, possibly contributing to lexical access. [Work supported by NIH.]