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Lexically-guided perceptual learning in speech processing

Eisner, F. (2006). Lexically-guided perceptual learning in speech processing. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
During listening to spoken language, the perceptual system needs to adapt frequently to changes in talkers, and thus to considerable interindividual variability in the articulation of a given speech sound. This thesis investigated a learning process which allows listeners to use stored lexical representations to modify the interpretation of a speech sound when a talker's articulation of that sound is consistently unclear or ambiguous. The questions that were addressed in this research concerned the robustness of such perceptual learning, a potential role for sleep, and whether learning is specific to the speech of one talker or, alternatively, generalises to other talkers. A further study aimed to identify the underlying functional neuroanatomy by using magnetic resonance imaging methods. The picture that emerged for lexically-guided perceptual learning is that learning occurs very rapidly, is highly specific, and remains remarkably robust both over time and under exposure to speech from other talkers.
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