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J Acoust Soc Am. 2002 Jun;111(6):2842-52.

Timing interference to speech in altered listening conditions.

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Department of Psychology, University College London, England.


A theory is outlined that explains the disruption that occurs when auditory feedback is altered. The key part of the theory is that the number of, and relationship between, inputs to a timekeeper, operative during speech control, affects speech performance. The effects of alteration to auditory feedback depend on the extra input provided to the timekeeper. Different disruption is predicted for auditory feedback that is out of synchrony with other speech activity (e.g., delayed auditory feedback, DAF) compared with synchronous forms of altered feedback (e.g., frequency shifted feedback, FSF). Stimulus manipulations that can be made synchronously with speech are predicted to cause equivalent disruption to the synchronous form of altered feedback. Three experiments are reported. In all of them, subjects repeated a syllable at a fixed rate (Wing and Kristofferson, 1973). Overall timing variance was decomposed into the variance of a timekeeper (Cv) and the variance of a motor process (Mv). Experiment 1 validated Wing and Kristofferson's method for estimating Cv in a speech task by showing that only this variance component increased when subjects repeated syllables at different rates. Experiment 2 showed DAF increased Cv compared with when no altered sound occurred (experiment 1) and compared with FSF. In experiment 3, sections of the subject's output sequence were increased in amplitude. Subjects just heard this sound in one condition and made a duration decision about it in a second condition. When no response was made, results were like those with FSF. When a response was made, Cv increased at longer repetition periods. The findings that the principal effect of DAF, a duration decision and repetition period is on Cv whereas synchronous alterations that do not require a decision (amplitude increased sections where no response was made and FSF) do not affect Cv, support the hypothesis that the timekeeping process is affected by synchronized and asynchronized inputs in different ways.

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