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Percept Psychophys. 2003 May;65(4):591-601.

Visual influences on the internal structure of phonetic categories.

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Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Previous work has demonstrated that the graded internal structure of phonetic categories is sensitive to a variety of contextual factors. One such factor is place of articulation: The best exemplars of voiceless stop consonants along auditory bilabial and velar voice onset time (VOT) continua occur over different ranges of VOTs (Volaitis & Miller, 1992). In the present study, we exploited the McGurk effect to examine whether visual information for place of articulation also shifts the best exemplar range for voiceless consonants, following Green and Kuhl's (1989) demonstration of effects of visual place of articulation on the location of voicing boundaries. In Experiment 1, we established that /p/ and /t/ have different best exemplar ranges along auditory bilabial and alveolar VOT continua. We then found, in Experiment 2, a similar shift in the best-exemplar range for /t/ relative to that for /p/ when there was a change in visual place of articulation, with auditory place of articulation held constant. These findings indicate that the perceptual mechanisms that determine internal phonetic category structure are sensitive to visual, as well as to auditory, information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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