The perceptual learning of time-compressed speech: A comparison of training protocols with different levels of difficulty

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Speech perception can improve substantially with practice (perceptual learning) even in adults. Here we compared the effects of four training protocols that differed in whether and how task difficulty was changed during a training session, in terms of the gains attained and the ability to apply (transfer) these gains to previously un-encountered items (tokens) and to different talkers. Participants trained in judging the semantic plausibility of sentences presented as time-compressed speech and were tested on their ability to reproduce, in writing, the target sentences; trail-by-trial feedback was afforded in all training conditions. In two conditions task difficulty (low or high compression) was kept constant throughout the training session, whereas in the other two conditions task difficulty was changed in an adaptive manner (incrementally from easy to difficult, or using a staircase procedure). Compared to a control group (no training), all four protocols resulted in significant post-training improvement in the ability to reproduce the trained sentences accurately. However, training in the constanthigh-compression protocol elicited the smallest gains in deciphering and reproducing trained items and in reproducing novel, untrained, items after training. Overall, these results suggest that training procedures that start off with relatively little signal distortion ("easy" items, not far removed from standard speech) may be advantageous compared to conditions wherein severe distortions are presented to participants from the very beginning of the training session.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0176488
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Psychobiology in Israel to KB. We thank Yizhar Lavner for helping to implement the different training protocols.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Gabay et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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