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Tsuji S.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Tsuji S.,International Max Planck Research School for Language science | Cristia A.,French School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences | Cristia A.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Developmental Psychobiology | Year: 2014

Although the majority of evidence on perceptual narrowing in speech sounds is based on consonants, most models of infant speech perception generalize these findings to vowels, assuming that vowel perception improves for vowel sounds that are present in the infant's native language within the first year of life, and deteriorates for non-native vowel sounds over the same period of time. The present meta-analysis contributes to assessing to what extent these descriptions are accurate in the first comprehensive quantitative meta-analysis of perceptual narrowing in infant vowel discrimination, including results from behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging methods applied to infants 0-14 months of age. An analysis of effect sizes for native and non-native vowel discrimination over the first year of life revealed that they changed with age in opposite directions, being significant by about 6 months of age. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source

Rommers J.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Rommers J.,International Max Planck Research School for Language science | Rommers J.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Meyer A.S.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | And 3 more authors.
Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics | Year: 2015

During language comprehension, listeners often anticipate upcoming information. This can draw listeners’ overt attention to visually presented objects before the objects are referred to. We investigated to what extent the anticipatory mechanisms involved in such language-mediated attention rely on specific verbal factors and on processes shared with other domains of cognition. Participants listened to sentences ending in a highly predictable word (e.g., “In 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon”) while viewing displays containing three unrelated distractor objects and a critical object, which was either the target object (e.g., a moon), an object with a similar shape (e.g., a tomato), or an unrelated control object (e.g., rice). Language-mediated anticipatory eye movements were observed to targets and to shape competitors. Importantly, looks to the shape competitor were systematically related to individual differences in anticipatory attention, as indexed by a spatial cueing task: Participants whose responses were most strongly facilitated by predictive arrow cues also showed the strongest effects of predictive language input on their eye movements. By contrast, looks to the target were related to individual differences in vocabulary size and verbal fluency. The results suggest that verbal and nonverbal factors contribute to different types of language-mediated eye movements. The findings are consistent with multiple-mechanism accounts of predictive language processing. © 2015, The Psychonomic Society, Inc. Source

Roswandowitz C.,Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences | Roswandowitz C.,International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication | Mathias S.R.,Yale University | Hintz F.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | And 5 more authors.
Current Biology | Year: 2014

Recognizing other individuals is an essential skill in humans and in other species [1-3]. Over the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that person-identity recognition abilities are highly variable. Roughly 2% of the population has developmental prosopagnosia, a congenital deficit in recognizing others by their faces [4]. It is currently unclear whether developmental phonagnosia, a deficit in recognizing others by their voices [5], is equally prevalent, or even whether it actually exists. Here, we aimed to identify cases of developmental phonagnosia. We collected more than 1,000 data sets from self-selected German individuals by using a web-based screening test that was designed to assess their voice-recognition abilities. We then examined potentially phonagnosic individuals by using a comprehensive laboratory test battery. We found two novel cases of phonagnosia: AS, a 32-year-old female, and SP, a 32-year-old male; both are otherwise healthy academics, have normal hearing, and show no pathological abnormalities in brain structure. The two cases have comparable patterns of impairments: both performed at least 2 SDs below the level of matched controls on tests that required learning new voices, judging the familiarity of famous voices, and discriminating pitch differences between voices. In both cases, only voice-identity processing per se was affected: face recognition, speech intelligibility, emotion recognition, and musical ability were all comparable to controls. The findings confirm the existence of developmental phonagnosia as a modality-specific impairment and allow a first rough prevalence estimate. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Source

Neger T.M.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Neger T.M.,International Max Planck Research School for Language science | Rietveld T.,Radboud University Nijmegen | Janse E.,Radboud University Nijmegen
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Within a few sentences, listeners learn to understand severely degraded speech such as noise-vocoded speech. However, individuals vary in the amount of such perceptual learning and it is unclear what underlies these differences. The present study investigates whether perceptual learning in speech relates to statistical learning, as sensitivity to probabilistic information may aid identification of relevant cues in novel speech input. If statistical learning and perceptual learning (partly) draw on the same general mechanisms, then statistical learning in a non-auditory modality using non-linguistic sequences should predict adaptation to degraded speech. In the present study, 73 older adults (aged over 60 years) and 60 younger adults (aged between 18 and 30 years) performed a visual artificial grammar learning task and were presented with 60 meaningful noise-vocoded sentences in an auditory recall task. Within age groups, sentence recognition performance over exposure was analyzed as a function of statistical learning performance, and other variables that may predict learning (i.e., hearing, vocabulary, attention switching control, working memory, and processing speed). Younger and older adults showed similar amounts of perceptual learning, but only younger adults showed significant statistical learning. In older adults, improvement in understanding noise-vocoded speech was constrained by age. In younger adults, amount of adaptation was associated with lexical knowledge and with statistical learning ability. Thus, individual differences in general cognitive abilities explain listeners' variability in adapting to noise-vocoded speech. Results suggest that perceptual and statistical learning share mechanisms of implicit regularity detection, but that the ability to detect statistical regularities is impaired in older adults if visual sequences are presented quickly. © 2014 Neger, Rietveld and Janse. Source

van de Velde M.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | van de Velde M.,International Max Planck Research School for Language science | Meyer A.S.,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics | Meyer A.S.,Donders Institute for Brain | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Memory and Language | Year: 2014

When formulating simple sentences to describe pictured events, speakers look at the referents they are describing in the order of mention. Accounts of incrementality in sentence production rely heavily on analyses of this gaze-speech link. To identify systematic sources of variability in message and sentence formulation, two experiments evaluated differences in formulation for sentences describing "easy" and "hard" events (more codable and less codable events) with preferred and dispreferred structures (actives and passives). Experiment 1 employed a subliminal cuing manipulation and a cumulative priming manipulation to increase production of passive sentences. Experiment 2 examined the influence of event codability on formulation without a cuing manipulation. In both experiments, speakers showed an early preference for looking at the agent of the event when constructing active sentences. This preference was attenuated by event codability, suggesting that speakers were less likely to prioritize encoding of a single character at the outset of formulation in "easy" events than in "harder" events. Accessibility of the agent influenced formulation primarily when an event was "harder" to describe. Formulation of passive sentences in Experiment 1 also began with early fixations to the agent but changed with exposure to passive syntax: speakers were more likely to consider the patient as a suitable sentential starting point after cumulative priming. The results show that the message-to-language mapping in production can vary with the ease of encoding an event structure and of generating a suitable linguistic structure. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. Source

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