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Phonetics Laboratory

 

The PerMaSC project is funded by the Cambridge Language Sciences Incubator Fund and the Isaac Newton Trust.

2020-2022

Background

During the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have been raised about the impact of face masks on communication in classroom settings. However, it is unclear to what extent visual obstruction of the speaker's mouth and changes to the acoustic signal lead to speech processing difficulties, and whether these effects can be mitigated by semantic predictability, i.e., the availability of contextual information. The present study investigates the acoustic and visual effects of face masks on speech intelligibility and processing speed under varying semantic predictability.

Aim

The study tested:

(1) the inhibiting effects of acoustic and visual face masks

(2) how these effects are modulated by semantic predictability

(3) how children integrate these linguistic cues compared to adults

 

People

Dr Kirsty McDougall (PI, Phonetics Laboratory)

Julia Schwarz (Lead Investigator, Phonetics Laboratory)

Katrina Kechun Li (Lead Investigator, Phonetics Laboratory)

Jasper Hong Sim (Phonetics Laboratory)

Yixin Zhang (Phonetics Laboratory)

Prof. Brechtje Post (Phonetics Laboratory)

Dr Lizzie Buchanan-Worster (MRC-CBU)

Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education)

Publications

J. Schwarz, K. Li, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2022). Semantic Cues Modulate Children’s and Adults’ Processing of Audio-Visual Face Mask Speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 879156. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.879156

J. Schwarz (2022, July 19). Face masks affect how children understand speech differently from adults – new research. Conversation. https://theconversation.com/face-masks-affect-how-children-understand-sp...

Conference presentations

K. Li, J. Schwarz, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2022) 'Recording and timing vocal responses: an online cued-shadowing task' Talk to be given at Interspeech 2022, Incheon, Korea, 17-22 September 2022.

K. Li, J. Schwarz, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2022) 'Recording and timing vocal responses: an online cued-shadowing task' Talk given at LanPhon 2022, 23-25 June 2022. [Abstract]

J. Schwarz, K. Li, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2022) 'Can we use visual, acoustic and semantic cues to compensate for face mask speech?' Talk given at Colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians (BAAP) 2022, York, 4-7 April 2022. [Programme] [Abstract]

J. Schwarz, K. Li, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2022) 'The impact of visual, acoustic and semantic cues on processing of face mask speech by children and adults.' Poster presented at Speech In Noise Workshop (SPiN) 2022, Online, 20-21 January 2022. [Abstract]

J. Schwarz, K. Li, J.H. Sim, Y. Zhang, E. Buchanan-Worster, B. Post, J. Gibson, K. McDougall (2021) 'Speech Perception through Face Masks by Children and Adults.' Poster presented at Cambridge Language Sciences Symposium, University of Cambridge, 24 June 2021. [Poster] [News]