Date of Original Version
Abstract or Description
For stimuli modeling stop consonants varying in the acoustic correlates of voice onset time (VOT),human listeners are more likely to perceive stimuli with lower ƒ0’s as voiced consonants—a pattern of perception that follows regularities in English speech production. The present study examines the basis of this observation. One hypothesis is that lower ƒ0’s enhance perception of voiced stops by virtue of perceptual interactions that arise from the operating characteristics of the auditory system. A second hypothesis is that this perceptual pattern develops as a result of experience with ƒ0-voicing covariation. In a test of these hypotheses, Japanese quail learned to respond to stimuli drawn from a series varying in VOT through training with one of three patterns of ƒ0-voicing covariation. Voicing and ƒ0 varied in the natural pattern (shorter VOT, lower ƒ0), in an inverse pattern (shorter VOT, higher ƒ0), or in a random pattern (no ƒ0-voicing covariation!). Birds trained with stimuli that had no ƒ0-voicing covariation exhibited no effect of ƒ0 on response to novel stimuli varying in VOT. For the other groups, birds’ responses followed the experienced pattern of covariation. These results suggest ƒ0 does not exert an obligatory influence on categorization of consonants as [VOICE] and emphasize the learnability of covariation among acoustic characteristics of speech.