Date of Original Version
Abstract or Table of Contents
Nonspeech stimuli influence phonetic categorization, but effects observed so far have been limited to precursors’ influence on perception of following speech. However, both preceding and following speech affect phonetic categorization. This asymmetry raises questions about whether general auditory processes play a role in context-dependent speech perception. This study tested whether the asymmetry stems from methodological issues or genuine mechanistic limitations. To determine whether and how backward effects of nonspeech context on speech may occur, one experiment examined perception of CVC words with [ga]-[da] series onsets followed by one of two possible embedded tones and one of two possible final consonants. When the tone was separated from the target onset by 100 ms, contrastive effects of tone frequency similar to those of previous studies were observed; however, when the tone was moved closer to the target segment assimilative effects were observed. In another experiment, contrastive effects of a following tone were observed in both CVC words and CV nonwords, although the size of the effects depended on syllable structure. Results are discussed with respect to contrastive mechanisms not speech-specific but operating at a relatively high level, taking into account spectrotemporal patterns occurring over extended periods before and after target events.