Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Versele, Jessica Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-05212009-203927 Title Effects of Voice Quality and Face Information on Infants' Speech Perception in Noise Degree Master of Science Department Psychology Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Chair Dannenberg, Clare Committee Member Deater-Deckard, Kirby Committee Member Keywords
- Infant Speech Perception
- Infant-directed Speech
- Informational Masking
- Infant Attention
Date of Defense 2009-05-04 Availability unrestricted AbstractA recent study by Polka, Rvachew, and Molnar (2008) found that 6- to 8-month-old infants do
not discriminate a simple native consonant-vowel contrast when familiarized to it in the presence
of distraction noise (i.e., recordings of crickets and birds chirping), even when testing was
conducted in quiet. Because the distraction noise did not overlap with the phonemes’
frequencies, failure to encode the familiarization phoneme could be due more to a disruption in
infant attention than to direct masking effects. Given that infants learn speech under natural
conditions involving noise and distraction, it is important to identify factors that may ‘protect’
their speech perception under non-ideal listening conditions. The current study investigated
three possible factors: speech register, face information, and speaker gender. Six-month-old
infants watched a video of a female speaker producing a native phoneme in either an adultdirected
or infant-directed manner accompanied by the same background noise as in Polka et al.
(2008). After habituation, infants were tested with alternating trials of the familiar phoneme and
a novel phoneme in quiet. Phoneme discrimination was measured by recording infants’ heart
rate and looking times during familiar and novel trials. Discrimination was poor in infants who
viewed a female speaker using adult-directed speech but was significantly improved (as seen in
both dependent measures of attention) when the female speaker used infant-directed speech.
Results indicate that common factors in the typical environment of infants can promote speech
perception abilities in noise.
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