Transfer of statistical learning from passive speech perception to speech production

Psychon Bull Rev. 2024 Jun;31(3):1193-1205. doi: 10.3758/s13423-023-02399-8. Epub 2023 Oct 26.


Communicating with a speaker with a different accent can affect one's own speech. Despite the strength of evidence for perception-production transfer in speech, the nature of transfer has remained elusive, with variable results regarding the acoustic properties that transfer between speakers and the characteristics of the speakers who exhibit transfer. The current study investigates perception-production transfer through the lens of statistical learning across passive exposure to speech. Participants experienced a short sequence of acoustically variable minimal pair (beer/pier) utterances conveying either an accent or typical American English acoustics, categorized a perceptually ambiguous test stimulus, and then repeated the test stimulus aloud. In the canonical condition, /b/-/p/ fundamental frequency (F0) and voice onset time (VOT) covaried according to typical English patterns. In the reverse condition, the F0xVOT relationship reversed to create an "accent" with speech input regularities atypical of American English. Replicating prior studies, F0 played less of a role in perceptual speech categorization in reverse compared with canonical statistical contexts. Critically, this down-weighting transferred to production, with systematic down-weighting of F0 in listeners' own speech productions in reverse compared with canonical contexts that was robust across male and female participants. Thus, the mapping of acoustics to speech categories is rapidly adjusted by short-term statistical learning across passive listening and these adjustments transfer to influence listeners' own speech productions.

Keywords: Auditory word repetition; Phonetic convergence; Phonetic cue weighting; Speech perception; Speech production; Statistical learning.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Speech Acoustics
  • Speech Perception* / physiology
  • Speech* / physiology
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology
  • Young Adult