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J Acoust Soc Am. 2011 Nov;130(5):2978-86. doi: 10.1121/1.3643826.

A cross-language study of compensation in response to real-time formant perturbation.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Humphrey Hall, 62 Arch Street, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.


Past studies have shown that when formants are perturbed in real time, speakers spontaneously compensate for the perturbation by changing their formant frequencies in the opposite direction to the perturbation. Further, the pattern of these results suggests that the processing of auditory feedback error operates at a purely acoustic level. This hypothesis was tested by comparing the response of three language groups to real-time formant perturbations, (1) native English speakers producing an English vowel /ε/, (2) native Japanese speakers producing a Japanese vowel (/e([inverted perpendicular])/), and (3) native Japanese speakers learning English, producing /ε/. All three groups showed similar production patterns when F1 was decreased; however, when F1 was increased, the Japanese groups did not compensate as much as the native English speakers. Due to this asymmetry, the hypothesis that the compensatory production for formant perturbation operates at a purely acoustic level was rejected. Rather, some level of phonological processing influences the feedback processing behavior.

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