Cognitive Maturation and the Use of Pitch and Rate Information in Making Similarity Judgments of a Single Talker

Petrini, Karin; Tagliapietra, Sara
April 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2008, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p485
Academic Journal
Purpose: This study examined age-related differences in speaker similarity judgments, in which acoustic cues known to be important in speaker and speech recognition and identification were varied. Method: Four groups of listeners of 5- to 6-, 8- to 9-, 10- to 11-, and 25- to 30-year-olds were asked to judge the similarity between an original talker's speech sample and 9 versions of a second speech sample from the same talker, obtained by manipulating the pitch and speech rate. Results: Results showed that although pitch was used by all age groups as information to judge the similarity between the single talker speech samples, there was a significant age-related increase in the weight of speech rate attributed to similarity judgments. Furthermore, an age-related effect in accuracy was found, as was an effect of pitch level for the younger group. Conclusion: The use of relevant acoustic features to discriminate a speaker changes with age, probably arising from a shift in cue weighting strategy as described by the developmental weighting strategy hypothesis (S. Nittrouer, C. Manning, & G. Meyer, 1993). Future studies should clarify whether the present findings can be extended to any pair of acoustic cues and should involve longitudinal methods to precisely detect when the strategy shift occurs.


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