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The role of spectro-temporal fine structure cues in lexical-tone discrimination for French and Mandarin listeners

The role of spectro-temporal modulation cues in conveying tonal information for lexical tones was assessed in native-Mandarin and native-French adult listeners using a lexical-tone discrimination task. The fundamental frequency (F0) of Thai tones was either degraded using an 8-band vocoder that reduced fine spectral details and frequency-modulation cues, or extracted and used to modulate the F0 of click trains. Mandarin listeners scored lower than French listeners in the discrimination of vocoded lexical tones. For click trains, Mandarin listeners outperformed French listeners. These preliminary results suggest that the perceptual weight of the fine spectro-temporal modulation cues conveying F0 information is enhanced for adults speaking a tonal language.



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