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Title: Normalization of lexical tones and nonlinguistic pitch contours : implications for speech-specific processing mechanism
Authors: Zhang, K
Wang, X
Peng, G 
Issue Date: Jan-2017
Source: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Jan. 2017, v. 141, no. 1, p. 38-49
Abstract: Context is indispensable for accurate tone perception, especially when the target tone system is as complex as that of Cantonese. However, not all contexts are equally beneficial. Speech contexts are usually more effective in improving lexical tone identification than nonspeech contexts matched in pitch information. Some potential factors which may contribute to these unequal effects have been proposed but, thus far, their plausibility remains unclear. To shed light on this issue, the present study compares the perception of lexical tones and their nonlinguistic counterparts under specific contextual (speech, nonspeech) and attentional (with/without focal attention) conditions. The results reveal a prominent congruency effect - target sounds tend to be identified more accurately when embedded in contexts of the same nature (speech/nonspeech). This finding suggests that speech and nonspeech sounds are partly processed by domain-specific mechanisms and that information from the same domain can be integrated more effectively than that from different domains. Therefore, domain-specific processing of speech could be the most likely cause of the unequal context effect. Moreover, focal attention is not a prerequisite for extracting contextual cues from speech and nonspeech during perceptual normalization. This finding implies that context encoding is highly automatic for native listeners.
Publisher: Acoustical Society of America
Journal: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 
ISSN: 0001-4966
EISSN: 1520-8524
DOI: 10.1121/1.4973414
Rights: Copyright 2017 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America.
The following article appeared in Kaile Zhang, Xiao Wang, and Gang Peng, "Normalization of lexical tones and nonlinguistic pitch contours: Implications for speech-specific processing mechanism", The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 141, 38-49 (2017) and may be found at
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