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Whispered speech perception in congenital amusia (Zhang et al., 2022)

journal contribution
posted on 08.03.2022, 19:15 authored by Gaoyuan Zhang, Jing Shao, Caicai Zhang, Lan Wang
Purpose: A fundamental feature of human speech is variation, including the manner of phonation, as exemplified in the case of whispered speech. In this study, we employed whispered speech to examine an unresolved issue about congenital amusia, a neurodevelopmental disorder of musical pitch processing, which also affects speech pitch processing such as lexical tone and intonation perception. The controversy concerns whether amusia is a pitch-processing disorder or can affect speech processing beyond pitch.
Method: We examined lexical tone and intonation recognition in 19 Mandarin-speaking amusics and 19 matched controls in phonated and whispered speech, where fundamental frequency (fo) information is either present or absent.
Results: The results revealed that the performance of congenital amusics was inferior to that of controls in lexical tone identification in both phonated and whispered speech. These impairments were also detected in identifying intonation (statements/questions) in phonated and whispered modes. Across the experiments, regression models revealed that fo and non-fo (duration, intensity, and formant frequency) acoustic cues predicted tone and intonation recognition in phonated speech, whereas non-fo cues predicted tone and intonation recognition in whispered speech. There were significant differences between amusics and controls in the use of both fo and non-fo cues.
Conclusion: The results provided the first evidence that the impairments of amusics in lexical tone and intonation identification prevail into whispered speech and support the hypothesis that the deficits of amusia extend beyond pitch processing.

Supplemental Material S1. A list of syllables and sentences for production and perception experiments.

Supplemental Material S2. Acoustic characteristics of the four Mandarin tones produced in the phonated mode and results of one-way ANOVAs conducted to compare the four tones on each acoustic cue (the p-value was corrected for multiple comparisons: .05/6 = .008).

Supplemental Material S3. Acoustic characteristics of the four Mandarin tones produced in the whispered mode and results of one-way ANOVAs conducted to compare the four tones on each acoustic cue (the p-value was corrected for multiple comparisons: .05/4 = .0125).

Supplemental Material S4. Acoustic characteristics of statements and questions in the phonated mode and results of t-tests conducted to compare statement and question on each acoustic cue (the p-value was corrected for multiple comparisons: .05/9 = .005).

Supplemental Material S5. Acoustic characteristics of statements and questions in the whispered mode and results of t-tests conducted to compare statement and question on each acoustic cue (the p-value was corrected for multiple comparisons: .05/4 = .0125).

Supplemental Material S6. Results of correlations among the nine acoustic cues of the phonated sentences.

Supplemental Material S7. Confusion matrix of tone identification in the phonated mode.

Supplemental Material S8. Confusion matrix of tone identification in the whispered mode.

Supplemental Material S9. Confusion matrix of intonation identification.

Supplemental Material S10. Results of simultaneous linear regression models with the MBEA scores as predictors on tone and intonation identification.

Supplemental Material S11. The relationship with the MBEA scores and tone and intonation identification in both phonation modes.

Supplemental Material S12. The relationship between the acoustic cues and phonated tone identification.

Supplemental Material S13. The relationship between the acoustic cues and phonated intonation identification.

Supplemental Material S14. The relationship between the acoustic cues and whispered tone identification.

Supplemental Material S15. The relationship between the acoustic cues and whispered intonation identification.

Zhang, G., Shao, J., Zhang, C., & Wang, L. (2022). The perception of lexical tone and intonation in whispered speech by Mandarin-speaking congenital amusics. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00345

Funding

This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC: 11504400; http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/) and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (ECS: 25603916; https://www.ugc.edu.hk/ eng/rgc/) to C. Zhang. This work was also supported by the grant of the National Key R & D Program of China (2020YFC2004100) to L. Wang.

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