Can lexical knowledge modulate prelexical representations over time?

McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2001). Can lexical knowledge modulate prelexical representations over time? In R. Smits, J. Kingston, T. Neary, & R. Zondervan (Eds.), Proceedings of the workshop on Speech Recognition as Pattern Classification (SPRAAC) (pp. 145-150). Nijmegen: Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
The results of a study on perceptual learning are reported. Dutch subjects made lexical decisions on a list of words and nonwords. Embedded in the list were either [f]- or [s]-final words in which the final fricative had been replaced by an ambiguous sound, midway between [f] and [s]. One group of listeners heard ambiguous [f]- final Dutch words like [kara?] (based on karaf, carafe) and unambiguous [s]-final words (e.g., karkas, carcase). A second group heard the reverse (e.g., ambiguous [karka?] and unambiguous karaf). After this training phase, listeners labelled ambiguous fricatives on an [f]- [s] continuum. The subjects who had heard [?] in [f]- final words categorised these fricatives as [f] reliably more often than those who had heard [?] in [s]-final words. These results suggest that speech recognition is dynamic: the system adjusts to the constraints of each particular listening situation. The lexicon can provide this adjustment process with a training signal.
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