Visible lexical stress cues on the face do not influence audiovisual speech perception

Bujok, R., Meyer, A. S., & Bosker, H. R. (2022). Visible lexical stress cues on the face do not influence audiovisual speech perception. In S. Frota, M. Cruz, & M. Vigário (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2022 (pp. 259-263). doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-53.
Producing lexical stress leads to visible changes on the face, such as longer duration and greater size of the opening of the mouth. Research suggests that these visual cues alone can inform participants about which syllable carries stress (i.e., lip-reading silent videos). This study aims to determine the influence of visual articulatory cues on lexical stress perception in more naturalistic audiovisual settings. Participants were presented with seven disyllabic, Dutch minimal stress pairs (e.g., VOORnaam [first name] & voorNAAM [respectable]) in audio-only (phonetic lexical stress continua without video), video-only (lip-reading silent videos), and audiovisual trials (e.g., phonetic lexical stress continua with video of talker saying VOORnaam or voorNAAM). Categorization data from video-only trials revealed that participants could distinguish the minimal pairs above chance from seeing the silent videos alone. However, responses in the audiovisual condition did not differ from the audio-only condition. We thus conclude that visual lexical stress information on the face, while clearly perceivable, does not play a major role in audiovisual speech perception. This study demonstrates that clear unimodal effects do not always generalize to more naturalistic multimodal communication, advocating that speech prosody is best considered in multimodal settings.
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