The influence of linguistic experience on the cognitive processing of pitch in speech and nonspeech sounds

Tessa Bent, Ann R. Bradlow*, Beverly A. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the present experiment, the authors tested Mandarin and English listeners on a range of auditory tasks to investigate whether long-term linguistic experience influences the cognitive processing of nonspeech sounds. As expected, Mandarin listeners identified Mandarin tones significantly more accurately than English listeners; however, performance did not differ across the listener groups on a pitch discrimination task requiring fine-grained discrimination of simple nonspeech sounds. The crucial finding was that cross-language differences emerged on a nonspeech pitch contour identification task: The Mandarin listeners more often misidentified flat and falling pitch contours than the English listeners in a manner that could be related to specific features of the sound structure of Mandarin, which suggests that the effect of linguistic experience extends to nonspeech processing under certain stimulus and task conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2006

Keywords

  • Cross-language speech perception
  • Mandarin tone
  • Nonspeech sounds
  • Pitch processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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