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Experience with a talker can transfer across modalities to facilitate lipreading


Rosenblum, Miller, and Sanchez (Psychological Science, 18, 392-396, 2007) found that subjects first trained to lip-read a particular talker were then better able to perceive the auditory speech of that same talker, as compared with that of a novel talker. This suggests that the talker experience a perceiver gains in one sensory modality can be transferred to another modality to make that speech easier to perceive. An experiment was conducted to examine whether this cross-sensory transfer of talker experience could occur (1) from auditory to lip-read speech, (2) with subjects not screened for adequate lipreading skill, (3) when both a familiar and an unfamiliar talker are presented during lipreading, and (4) for both old (presentation set) and new words. Subjects were first asked to identify a set of words from a talker. They were then asked to perform a lipreading task from two faces, one of which was of the same talker they heard in the first phase of the experiment. Results revealed that subjects who lip-read from the same talker they had heard performed better than those who lip-read a different talker, regardless of whether the words were old or new. These results add further evidence that learning of amodal talker information can facilitate speech perception across modalities and also suggest that this information is not restricted to previously heard words.

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