The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

No Effect of Language Experience on Spectral/Fundamental Listener Type Distribution: A Comparison of Chinese and Dutch

Marie Postma-Nilsenová, Eric Postma, Yu Gu

Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Individual listeners differ in their capacity to process complex tones. Past studies suggest that the distribution of listener types, though partly genetically determined, might also depend on the linguistic environment. Listeners raised in a tonal language may be more sensitive to perceive F0 changes both in music and speech, due to their vocal experience. Using the missing fundamental task, an earlier study by Ladd et al. (2013) found no differences between English and Chinese listeners, but did not take into account the potentially confounding effect of combination tones that arise in the cochlea. This study determines the listener-type distributions of Dutch and Chinese individuals while employing masking noise to suppress the perception of combination tones. The results show no differences in listenertype distribution in groups of Dutch and Chinese listeners. Simulations performed with a tonal and non-tonal memory-based computational model of pitch perception reveal that in both types of languages the fundamental listening mode is dominant.

Index Terms: Tone, listener type, perception

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Postma-Nilsenová, Marie / Postma, Eric / Gu, Yu (2014): "No effect of language experience on spectral/fundamental listener type distribution: a comparison of Chinese and Dutch", In TAL-2014, 168-171.