Effect of cognitive load on speech perception

Contact Name: Sven Mattys

Sven Mattys is a professor of psychology at the University of York. His research focuses on the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in recognising speech, with a special interest in the everyday circumstances under which speech is experienced, such as noise and divided attention. He is a member of the Marie Curie Training Network INSPIRE (Investigating Speech Processing in Realistic Environments) and principal investigator on an ESRC project entitled “Word learning in early, middle and late adulthood”.

Improving the validity of speech-recognition models requires an understanding of how speech is processed in everyday life. Unlike listening conditions leading to a degradation of the signal (e.g., noise), adverse conditions that do not alter the integrity of the signal (e.g., cognitive load, CL) have been under-studied. Drawing upon behavioural and imaging methods, our research indicates that CL reduces sensitivity to phonetic detail and increases reliance on lexical knowledge. Importantly, we show that increased reliance on lexical knowledge under CL is a cascaded effect of impoverished phonetic processing, not a direct consequence of CL. A CL-related deactivation of parts of the auditory cortex associated with early phonetic analysis confirms the early, sensory locus of CL. Ways of integrating CL into the functional architecture of existing speech-recognition models are presented

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