Generalized Adaptation to Dysarthric Speech

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research




American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Publication Date


Award Number

NIH, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) 1R21DC016084-01


NIH, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

First Page


Last Page



Purpose Generalization of perceptual learning has received limited attention in listener adaptation studies with dysarthric speech. This study investigated whether adaptation to a talker with dysarthria could be predicted by the nature of the listener's prior familiarization experience, specifically similarity of perceptual features, and level of intelligibility.

Method Following an intelligibility pretest involving a talker with ataxic dysarthria, 160 listeners were familiarized with 1 of 7 talkers with dysarthria—who differed from the test talker in terms of perceptual similarity (same, similar, dissimilar) and level of intelligibility (low, mid, high)—or a talker with no neurological impairment (control). Listeners then completed an intelligibility posttest on the test talker.

Results All listeners benefited from familiarization with a talker with dysarthria; however, adaptation to the test talker was superior when the familiarization talker had similar perceptual features and reduced when the familiarization talker had low intelligibility.

Conclusion Evidence for both generalization and specificity of learning highlights the differential value of listeners' prior experiences for adaptation to, and improved understanding of, a talker with dysarthria. These findings broaden our theoretical knowledge of adaptation to degraded speech, as well as the clinical application of training paradigms that exploit perceptual processes for therapeutic gain.


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