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  • Bosker, H. R. (2021). The contribution of amplitude modulations in speech to perceived charisma. In B. Weiss, J. Trouvain, M. Barkat-Defradas, & J. J. Ohala (Eds.), Voice attractiveness: Prosody, phonology and phonetics (pp. 165-181). Singapore: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-981-15-6627-1_10.


    Speech contains pronounced amplitude modulations in the 1–9 Hz range, correlating with the syllabic rate of speech. Recent models of speech perception propose that this rhythmic nature of speech is central to speech recognition and has beneficial effects on language processing. Here, we investigated the contribution of amplitude modulations to the subjective impression listeners have of public speakers. The speech from US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the three TV debates of 2016 was acoustically analyzed by means of modulation spectra. These indicated that Clinton’s speech had more pronounced amplitude modulations than Trump’s speech, particularly in the 1–9 Hz range. A subsequent perception experiment, with listeners rating the perceived charisma of (low-pass filtered versions of) Clinton’s and Trump’s speech, showed that more pronounced amplitude modulations (i.e., more ‘rhythmic’ speech) increased perceived charisma ratings. These outcomes highlight the important contribution of speech rhythm to charisma perception.
  • Frost, R. L. A., & Casillas, M. (2021). Investigating statistical learning of nonadjacent dependencies: Running statistical learning tasks in non-WEIRD populations. In SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi:10.4135/9781529759181.


    Language acquisition is complex. However, one thing that has been suggested to help learning is the way that information is distributed throughout language; co-occurrences among particular items (e.g., syllables and words) have been shown to help learners discover the words that a language contains and figure out how those words are used. Humans’ ability to draw on this information—“statistical learning”—has been demonstrated across a broad range of studies. However, evidence from non-WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) societies is critically lacking, which limits theorizing on the universality of this skill. We extended work on statistical language learning to a new, non-WEIRD linguistic population: speakers of Yélî Dnye, who live on a remote island off mainland Papua New Guinea (Rossel Island). We performed a replication of an existing statistical learning study, training adults on an artificial language with statistically defined words, then examining what they had learnt using a two-alternative forced-choice test. Crucially, we implemented several key amendments to the original study to ensure the replication was suitable for remote field-site testing with speakers of Yélî Dnye. We made critical changes to the stimuli and materials (to test speakers of Yélî Dnye, rather than English), the instructions (we re-worked these significantly, and added practice tasks to optimize participants’ understanding), and the study format (shifting from a lab-based to a portable tablet-based setup). We discuss the requirement for acute sensitivity to linguistic, cultural, and environmental factors when adapting studies to test new populations.
  • Levelt, W. J. M. (1962). Motion breaking and the perception of causality. In A. Michotte (Ed.), Causalité, permanence et réalité phénoménales: Etudes de psychologie expérimentale (pp. 244-258). Louvain: Publications Universitaires.

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