Voice Perception (2009-2012)

Stefan R. Schweinberger
Coworkers: Romi Zäske, Verena G. Skuk,

While the perception of faces from static portraits has been investigated in many studies, little research has been devoted to processes mediating auditory recognition of people via their voices. This is despite the fact that the voice is by far the most important auditory stimulus that supports person identification, and that it carries a wealth of further social information including emotion, gender, or age. This project is intended to fill a major gap in the research on auditory person perception, by addressing three key aspects of voice perception. First, using a design that incorporates both recognition memory and priming approaches, we explore the role of attention for explicit and implicit voice memory. Second, using novel voice morphing technology, we recently presented the first behavioural evidence that adaptation to non-linguistic information in voices elicits systematic auditory aftereffects in the perception of gender (Schweinberger et al., 2008). Here we will build on this new line of research, and will study behavioural and neurocognitive correlates of auditory adaptation to two other important social signals conveyed by voices: person identity and age. The studies on voice identity adaptation can be expected to have far-reaching theoretical implications with respect to the question of whether individual voices are represented in a prototype-referenced manner, similar to what has been suggested for the representation of facial identity. Finally, building on findings from the visual modality that different visual adaptation effects depend on attention and conscious perception to very different degrees, we will study the combined effects of attention and voice adaptation.

  • Schweinberger, S. R., Kawahara, H., Simpson, A. P., Skuk, V. G., & Zäske, R. (2014). Speaker Perception. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 5(1), 15-25. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1261
  • Zäske, R., Fritz, C., & Schweinberger, S. R. (2013). Spatial inattention abolishes voice adaptation. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 75(3), 603-613. doi: 10.3758/s13414-012-0420-y
  • Zäske, R., Skuk, V.G., Kaufmann, J.M., & Schweinberger, S.R. (2013). Perceiving vocal age and gender: An adaptation approach. Acta Psychologica, 144(3), 583-593.