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Re: Stop consonant identification based on initial spectra?


It does appear that the place-of-articulation related patterns of stop
consonant burst spectra are relatively invariant:

Stevens, K. N., & Blumstein, S. E. (1981).  The search for invariant
acoustic correlates of phonetic features.  In Eimas, P. D., & Miller, J. L.
(Eds.) Perspectives on the Study of Speech (pp. 1-38). Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, Inc.

Furthermore, burst spectra are apparently usable as acoustic cues to place
of articulation, but they do not appear to be as useful as formant
transitions, and given a choice listeners tend to prefer formant transitions:

Walley, A. C., & Carrell, T. D. (1983).  Onset spectra and formant
transitions in the adult's and child's perception of place of articulation
in stop consonants.  Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 73,

It's even difficult (though probably not impossible) to train listeners to
use burst properties instead of formant transitions. It seems to be
comparatively easier to train listeners to use formant transitions instead
of bursts.

Francis, A. L., Baldwin, K., & Nusbaum, H. C. (2000).  Effects of training
on attention to acoustic cues. Perception and Psychophysics,62(8), 1668-1680.

Where did you see the poster?  Do you remember the authors' names?


At 11:06 AM 3/2/2005, Marvit, Peter wrote:
I'm sorry to interrupt the current frenzy of pet anecdotes (in which no one
has yet mentioned fish)...

I'm looking for a reference that reports whether or not humans can identify
stop consonants based on their initial spectra--before the formant
transitions to the following vowel. Secondarily (though I suppose more
fundamentally), are the initial spectra (first 10 msec or however long
*before* formant transitions) invariant with respect to following vowels?
Differences between voiced and unvoiced?

Background: I had been well indoctrinated in the motor theory of speech
perception, teaching my students the wonders of categorical perception of
stop consonants despite widely varying formant transition profiles across
different vowels (i.e., /di/ looks rather different than /du/ but we
identify /d/ in both). A recent conference poster looking at
neurophysiological spectral representation in non-human primate suggested
that response to spectra of stop consonants (without the following formant
transitions) was sufficient to distinguish and identify them. Alas, I did
not get the relevant human reference and have been unable to find one in an
informal search of my reference books and MEDLINE.

Thanks in advance,

: Peter Marvit, PhD                          <pmarvit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> :
: Dept. Anatomy and Neurobiology    University of Maryland Medical School:
: 20 Penn Street, HSF II, Room S251                  Baltimore, MD 21201 :
: phone 410-706-1272      http://www.theearlab.org      fax 410-706-2512 :

  Alexander L. Francis        http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~francisa
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  Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences       ofc. +1 (765) 494-3815
  Purdue University                         lab. +1 (765) 494-7553
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