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The influence of inhibitory skill on phonological representations in production and perception

Lev-Ari, S., & Peperkamp, S. (2014). The influence of inhibitory skill on phonological representations in production and perception. Journal of Phonetics, 47, 36-46. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.09.001.
Inhibition is known to play a role in speech perception and has been hypothesized to likewise influence speech production. In this paper we test whether individual differences in inhibitory skill can lead to individual differences in phonological representations in perception and production. We further examine whether the type of inhibition that influences phonological representation is domain-specific or domain-general. Native French speakers read aloud sentences with words containing a voiced stop that either have a voicing neighbor (target) or not (control). The duration of pre-voicing was measured. Participants similarly performed a lexical decision task on versions of these target and matched control words whose pre-voicing duration was manipulated. Lastly, participants performed linguistic and non-linguistic inhibition tasks. Results indicate that the lower speakers' linguistic or non-linguistic inhibition is, the easier it is for them to recognize words with a voiceless neighbor when these words have a shorter, intermediate, pre-voicing rather than a longer one. Inhibitory skill did not predict recognition time for control words, indicating that the effect was due to the greater activation of the voiceless neighbor. Inhibition did not predict pre-voicing duration in production. These results indicate that individual differences in cognitive skills can influence phonological representations in speech perception.
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