Integration of multiple speech segmentation cues: a hierarchical framework

S Mattys, LS White, JF Melhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

254 Citations (Scopus)


A central question in psycholinguistic research is how listeners isolate words from connected speech despite the paucity of clear word-boundary cues in the signal. A large body of empirical evidence indicates that word segmentation is promoted by both lexical (knowledge-derived) and sublexical (signal-derived) cues. However, an account of how these cues operate in combination or in conflict is lacking. The present study fills this gap by assessing speech segmentation when cues are systematically pitted against each other. The results demonstrate that listeners do not assign the same power to all segmentation cues; rather, cues are hierarchically integrated, with descending weights allocated to lexical, segmental, and prosodic cues. Lower level cues drive segmentation when the interpretive conditions are altered by a lack of contextual and lexical information or by white noise. Taken together, the results call for an integrated, hierarchical, and signal-contingent approach to speech segmentation.
Translated title of the contributionIntegration of multiple speech segmentation cues: a hierarchical framework
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477 - 500
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume134 (4)
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Psychological Association


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