The influence of noise on phonological competition during spoken word recognition

Susanne Brouwer, Ann R Bradlow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Listeners' interactions often take place in auditorily challenging conditions. We examined how noise affects phonological competition during spoken word recognition. In a visual-world experiment, which allows us to examine the time-course of recognition, English participants listened to target words in quiet and in noise while they saw four pictures on the screen: a target (e.g. candle), an onset overlap competitor (e.g. candy), an offset overlap competitor (e.g. sandal), and a distractor. The results showed that, while all competitors were relatively quickly suppressed in quiet listening conditions, listeners experienced persistent competition in noise from the offset competitor but not from the onset competitor. This suggests that listeners' phonological competitor activation persists for longer in noise than in quiet and that listeners are able to deactivate some unwanted competition when listening to speech in noise. The well-attested competition pattern in quiet was not replicated. Possible methodological explanations for this result are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the XVIIth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
Place of PublicationHong Kong
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2011


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