Perception of distorted speech - Speaker: Martin Cooke

No theory of speech perception is complete without an explanation of how listeners are able handle severely degraded forms of speech. Starting with a brief overview of a century of research which has seen the development of many types of distorted speech, followed by some anecdotal evidence that automatic speech recognisers still have some way to go to match listeners‘ performance in this area, I will describe the outcome of two recent perceptual studies into different aspects of distorted speech. The first makes use of ’sculpted speech‘, a new form of distortion that is created by passing an arbitrary signal through a time-frequency mask representing the target utterance. This study examines the extent to which the mask alone supports speech perception, and considers what happens when the generating signal is incongruent with the target speech. The second study investigates the detailed time course of a listener’s response to different varieties of distorted speech, addressing the question of just how rapidly we adapt to previously unseen forms of speech. In parallel, I will mention the outcome of web-based replications of both experiments, and discuss the implications for carrying out speech perception experiments outside traditional laboratory settings.