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Poster E92

Influence of social and semantic context in processing speech in noise.

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Etienne Abassi1 (, Robert Zatorre1; 1McGill

Social interactions occupy a substantial part of our life. Not only interacting in first person, but also listening to others’ interactions is critical in understanding our social world. Although the role of semantics in speech comprehension has been studied, the role of social context, and its interaction with semantics, remain unknown. We conducted a series of four perceptual experiments to better understand the processing of multiple-speaker conversations from a third-person viewpoint, manipulating the social and semantic context of a conversation. We used a stimulus set consisting of two-speaker dialogues or one-speaker monologues (factor: social context) arranged in intact or sentence-scrambled order (factor: semantic context). Each stimuli comprised five sentences, with the fifth sentence embedded in multi-talker babbling noise. This fifth sentence was subsequently repeated without noise, with a single word altered or unchanged. Stimuli were presented over headphones to healthy young adult listeners, who were asked whether the repeated sentence was same as or different from the previous in-noise sentence. Overall, we found significant effects for both social and semantic contexts when processing a conversation. We also found a negative correlation between a measure of autistic traits and individual performances only when processing a dialogue. Our findings highlight that both semantic and social aspects of a conversation can modulate the processing of conversations. They also suggest that processing dialogues, but not monologues, is linked to individual social abilities. These results raise new questions regarding predictive or other mechanisms that may be at play when perceiving speech in social contexts.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Audition


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April 13–16  |  2024