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Cogn Psychol. 2007 Feb;54(1):1-32. Epub 2006 Jun 19.

An interaction between prosody and statistics in the segmentation of fluent speech.

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International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy.


Sensitivity to prosodic cues might be used to constrain lexical search. Indeed, the prosodic organization of speech is such that words are invariably aligned with phrasal prosodic edges, providing a cue to segmentation. In this paper we devise an experimental paradigm that allows us to investigate the interaction between statistical and prosodic cues to extract words from a speech stream. We provide evidence that statistics over the syllables are computed independently of prosody. However, we also show that trisyllabic sequences with high transition probabilities that straddle two prosodic constituents appear not to be recognized. Taken together, our findings suggest that prosody acts as a filter, suppressing possible word-like sequences that span prosodic constituents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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