Word segmentation from noise-band vocoded speech

Tina M. Grieco-Calub, Katherine M. Simeon, Hillary E. Snyder, Casey Lew-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Spectral degradation reduces access to the acoustics of spoken language and compromises how learners break into its structure. We hypothesised that spectral degradation disrupts word segmentation, but that listeners can exploit other cues to restore detection of words. Normal-hearing adults were familiarised to artificial speech that was unprocessed or spectrally degraded by noise-band vocoding into 16 or 8 spectral channels. The monotonic speech stream was pause-free (Experiment 1), interspersed with isolated words (Experiment 2), or slowed by 33% (Experiment 3). Participants were tested on segmentation of familiar vs. novel syllable sequences and on recognition of individual syllables. As expected, vocoding hindered both word segmentation and syllable recognition. The addition of isolated words, but not slowed speech, improved segmentation. We conclude that syllable recognition is necessary but not sufficient for successful word segmentation, and that isolated words can facilitate listeners’ access to the structure of acoustically degraded speech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1356
Number of pages13
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 26 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Word segmentation
  • isolated words
  • noise-band vocoding
  • spectral degradation
  • speech rate


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