Cross-modal prediction in speech perception

TitleCross-modal prediction in speech perception
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSánchez-García C, Alsius A, Enns JT, Soto-Faraco S
JournalPLoS ONE
Date Published10/2011
Keywordsactivation, Brain, Classical receptive-field, competition, Comprehension, events, hearing lips, Primary visual-cortex, seeing voices

Speech perception often benefits from vision of the speaker's lip movements when they are available. One potential mechanism underlying this reported gain in perception arising from audio-visual integration is on-line prediction. In this study we address whether the preceding speech context in a single modality can improve audiovisual processing and whether this improvement is based on on-line information-transfer across sensory modalities. In the experiments presented here, during each trial, a speech fragment (context) presented in a single sensory modality (voice or lips) was immediately continued by an audiovisual target fragment. Participants made speeded judgments about whether voice and lips were in agreement in the target fragment. The leading single sensory context and the subsequent audiovisual target fragment could be continuous in either one modality only, both (context in one modality continues into both modalities in the target fragment) or neither modalities (i.e., discontinuous). The results showed quicker audiovisual matching responses when context was continuous with the target within either the visual or auditory channel (Experiment 1). Critically, prior visual context also provided an advantage when it was cross-modally continuous (with the auditory channel in the target), but auditory to visual cross-modal continuity resulted in no advantage (Experiment 2). This suggests that visual speech information can provide an on-line benefit for processing the upcoming auditory input through the use of predictive mechanisms. We hypothesize that this benefit is expressed at an early level of speech analysis.