Jieying He defends thesis 7 June

07 June 2023
Thesis cover Jieying He
On Wednesday, 07 June, 16:30 hrs, Jieying He will defend her thesis ‘Coordination of spoken language production and comprehension: How speech production is affected by irrelevant background speech’ in the Aula of the Radboud University. The event will also be accessible via live-stream.

Link to live-stream

Much of daily conversation occurs in the presence of irrelevant external auditory stimulation, including noise from nearby traffic or construction, a television broadcasting in the background, or a colleague talking on the phone. However, less is known about how speakers plan their speech in the presence of irrelevant background speech than about how they listen in adverse conditions. This thesis explored how irrelevant background speech influenced speech production and what strategies speakers would use to overcome this influence. 

Three chapters (Chapters 2, 4, & 5) were conducted using a continuous speaking-while-listening paradigm in which native Dutch speakers named sets of pictures with varied difficulties (indexed by high or low name agreement) while ignoring different types of irrelevant background speech. Naming accuracy, planning speed, and response chunking were measured. Results showed that various properties of irrelevant background speech (e.g., representational similarity, attention demand, intelligibility, interestingness, and contextual variation) have different disruptive potentials for speech production. The disruption is caused by both domain-specific interference-by-similarity and domain-general attention capture mechanisms. 

Moreover, the processing of irrelevant background speech is modulated by the difficulty of speech production. In addition, a web-based study (Chapter 3) replicated two effects previously obtained in lab-based studies, i.e., the name agreement effect and the semantic context effect, which supports the feasibility of conducting language production research in an online environment. Combined, the present dissertation provides important insights into how speakers plan and produce utterances in the presence of background speech, and contributes to our understanding of the coordination of speech production and comprehension.

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