ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202211.0037.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Language And Linguistics Keywords: non-native speech learning; talker variability; phonetically-irrelevant variability; long-term retention; cognitive abilities
Online: 2 November 2022 (03:05:23 CET)
Talker variability has been reported to facilitate generalization and retention of speech learning, but is also shown to place demands on cognitive resources. Our recent study provided evidence that phonetically-irrelevant acoustic variability in single-talker (ST) speech is sufficient to induce equivalent amounts of learning to the use of multiple-talker (MT) training. This study is a follow-up contrasting MT versus ST training with varying degrees of temporal exaggeration to examine how cognitive measures of individual learners may influence the role of input variability in immediate learning and long-term retention. Native Chinese-speaking adults were trained on the English /i/-/ɪ/ contrast. We assessed the trainees’ working memory and selective attention before training. Trained participants showed retention of more native-like cue weighting in both perception and production regardless of talker variability condition. The ST training group showed long-term benefit in word identification, whereas the MT training group did not retain the improvement. The results demonstrate the role of phonetically-irrelevant variability in robust speech learning and modulatory functions of nonlinguistic working memory and selective attention, highlighting the necessity to consider the interaction between input characteristics, task difficulty, and individual differences in cognitive abilities in assessing learning outcomes.