Speech-on-speech perception of musicians and non-musicians: the role of prosodic cues
In the current study, we investigated the role of prosodic cues in speech-on-speech perception in musicians and non-musicians. Earlier studies have shown that musicians may have an advantage in speech-on-speech performance in behavioral tasks [1,2]. Previously, we have also shown in an eye-tracking study that musical experience has an effect on the timing of resolution of lexical competition when processing quiet vs. masked speech . In particular, musicians were faster in lexical decision-making when a two-talker masker was added to target speech. However, the source of the difference observed between groups remained unclear. Here, by employing a visual world paradigm, we aimed to clarify whether musicians and non-musicians differ in their use of durational cues that contribute to prosodic boundaries in Dutch in resolving lexical competition, when processing quiet vs two-talker masked speech.
The materials consisted of Dutch bisyllabic words, presented in two conditions: matching vs mismatching duration and quiet vs masked. In the matching condition, the duration of the first syllable within a target word (e.g., painter) was matching the duration of that syllable. In the mismatching condition, the duration of the first syllable was mismatched by embedding the recording of a monosyllabic word (e.g., pain), which was longer as it preceded a phrase boundary. Listeners were presented with four pictures that contained the target (“painter”), the competitor (“pain”), and two distractor pictures. If musical training preserves listeners' sensitivity to the acoustic correlates of prosodic boundaries when processing speech, we expected to observe more fixations towards the competitor in the mismatching condition.
We compared gaze-fixations of both groups across conditions (matching vs mismatching duration) and masking (two-talker masker vs quiet). Our results showed that both in quiet and masked speech, musicians exhibited more lexical competition and a delay in resolving the lexical ambiguity in the mismatching duration condition. This indicated that musicians pick up more of the durational cues both in quiet and in masked speech.
1. Başkent D, Gaudrain E. Musician advantage for speech-on-speech perception. J Acoust Soc Am. 2016;139(3):EL51–6.
2. Swaminathan J, Mason CR, Streeter TM, Best V, Kidd G, Patel AD. Musical training, individual differences and the cocktail party problem. Sci Rep. 2015;1–10.
3. Kaplan EC, Wagner AE, Başkent D. Are musicians at an advantage when processing speech on speech? In: Parncutt R, Sattmann S, editors. Proceedings of ICMPC15/ESCOM10. Graz, Austria: Centre for Systematic Musicology, University of Graz; 2018. p. 233–6.