The effects of lexical content, acoustic and linguistic variability, and vocoding on voice cue perception

Thomas Koelewijn*, Etienne Gaudrain, Terrin Tamati, Deniz Başkent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Perceptual differences in voice cues, such as fundamental frequency (F0) and vocal tract length (VTL), can facilitate speech understanding in challenging conditions. Yet, we hypothesized that in the presence of spectrotemporal signal degradations, as imposed by cochlear implants (CIs) and vocoders, acoustic cues that overlap for voice perception and phonemic categorization could be mistaken for one another, leading to a strong interaction between linguistic and indexical (talker-specific) content. Fifteen normal-hearing participants performed an odd-one-out adaptive task measuring just-noticeable differences (JNDs) in F0 and VTL. Items used were words (lexical content) or time-reversed words (no lexical content). The use of lexical content was either promoted (by using variable items across comparison intervals) or not (fixed item). Finally, stimuli were presented without or with vocoding. Results showed that JNDs for both F0 and VTL were significantly smaller (better) for non-vocoded compared with vocoded speech and for fixed compared with variable items. Lexical content (forward vs reversed) affected VTL JNDs in the variable item condition, but F0 JNDs only in the non-vocoded, fixed condition. In conclusion, lexical content had a positive top-down effect on VTL perception when acoustic and linguistic variability was present but not on F0 perception. Lexical advantage persisted in the most degraded conditions and vocoding even enhanced the effect of item variability, suggesting that linguistic content could support compensation for poor voice perception in CI users.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1620
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2021


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Acoustics
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Linguistics
  • Speech Perception

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