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Subject Speech Science » Perception

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631229278.2004.00002.x


Historically, the study of audition has lagged behind the study of vision, partly, no doubt, because seeing is our first sense, hearing our second. But beyond this, and perhaps more importantly, instruments for acoustic control and analysis demand a more advanced technology than their optic counterparts: having a sustained natural source of light, but not of sound, we had lenses and prisms long before we had sound generators and oscilloscopes. For speech, moreover, early work revealed that its key perceptual dimensions are not those of the waveform as it impinges on the ear (amplitude, time), but those of its time-varying Fourier transform, as it might appear at the output of the cochlea (frequency, amplitude, time). So it was only with the invention of instruments for analysis and synthesis of running speech that the systematic study of speech perception could begin: the sound spectrograph of R. K. Potter and his colleagues at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey during World War II, the Pattern Playback of Franklin Cooper at Haskins Laboratories in New York, a few years later. With these devices and their successors, speech research could finally address the first task of all perceptual study: definition of the stimulus, that is, of the physical conditions under which perception occurs. Yet a reader unfamiliar with the byways of modern cognitive psychology who chances on ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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