The verbal transformation effect
: an exploration of the perceptual organization of speech

  • Marcin Stachurski

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Six experiments investigated the influence of several grouping cues within the framework of the Verbal Transformation Effect (VTE, Experiments 1 to 4) and Phonemic Transformation Effect (PTE, Experiments 5 and 6), where listening to a repeated word (VTE) or sequence of vowels (PTE) produces verbal transformations (VTs). In Experiment 1, the influence of F0 frequency and lateralization cues (ITDs) was investigated in terms of the pattern of VTs. As the lateralization difference increased between two repeating sequences, the number of forms was significantly reduced with the fewest forms reported in the dichotic condition. Experiment 2 explored whether or not propensity to report more VTs on high pitch was due to the task demands of monitoring two sequences at once. The number of VTs reported was higher when listeners were asked to attend to one sequence only, suggesting smaller attentional constraints on the task requirements. In Experiment 3, consonant-vowel transitions were edited out from two sets of six stimuli words with ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ formant transitions, respectively. Listeners reported more forms in the spliced-out than in the unedited case for the strong-transition words, but not for those with weak transitions. A similar trend was observed for the F0 contour manipulation used in Experiment 4 where listeners reported more VTs and forms for words following a discontinuous F0 contour. In Experiments 5 and 6, the role of F0 frequency and ITD cues was investigated further using a related phenomenon – the PTE. Although these manipulations had relatively little effect on the number of VTs and forms reported, they did influence the particular forms heard. In summary, the current experiments confirmed that it is possible to successfully investigate auditory grouping cues within the VTE framework and that, in agreement with recent studies, the results can be attributed to the perceptual re-grouping of speech sounds.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBrian Roberts (Supervisor)


  • auditory perception
  • scene analysis
  • perceptual grouping
  • pitch contour
  • formant transitions

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