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Cross-modal effects on speech perception : the influence of text on the resolution of ambiguous spoken words Shoolingin, Allen

Abstract

The current study explores the influence of printed words on spoken word recognition. Theoretical frameworks outline ties between the modalities (Massaro, 1987) and, in particular, orthography and phonology (Grainger, Diependaele, Spinelli, Ferrand, & Farioli, 2003). This study investigated whether text can influence the resolution of ambiguous spoken words, and whether this influence can occur when the text is displayed below conscious awareness. Twenty-two young adults participated in a cross-modal word repetition task (i.e., textual prime followed by an auditory target which was repeated). The textual primes were either identifiable to the participants or not. The auditory targets were either unambiguous or ambiguous (through digital editing of the voice onsets of spoken words). The pairing of the prime and target words was also manipulated to form various priming relationships (e.g., pan-PAN, ban-PAN, net-PAN, etc.). The results show that text can facilitate or inhibit the processing of ambiguous spoken words, providing some evidence of interconnectivity between orthography and phonology. These effects appear to be limited to when the text is consciously identifiable, suggesting that cross-modal priming is dependent on the length of exposure of a printed word. There was also a general perceptual bias by participants to identify (i.e., repeat) the ambiguous targets as voiced (e.g., BAN), indicating that the degree of ambiguity was not sufficient to allow preceding text to influence the identification of these targets.

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