Listeners quickly learn to understand speech that has been distorted, and this process is enhanced when comprehension is constrained by higher-level knowledge. In three experiments, we investigated whether this knowledge enhances comprehension of distorted speech because it allows listeners to predict (1) the meaning of the distorted utterance, or (2) the lower-level wordforms. Participants listened to question-answer sequences, in which questions were clearly-spoken but answers were noise-vocoded. Comprehension (Experiment 1) and learning (Experiment 2) were enhanced when listeners could use the question to predict the semantics of the distorted answer, but were not enhanced by predictions of answer form. Form predictions enhanced comprehension only when questions and answers were significantly separated by time and intervening linguistic material (Experiment 3). Together, these results suggest that high-level semantic predictions enhance comprehension and learning, with form predictions playing only a minimal role.
- perceptual learning