Arthur Samuel is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University in New York and an Ikerbasque Research Professor at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language in San Sebastian. His primary research focus is on the way in which humans perceive and comprehend spoken language, starting with the acoustic signal and ending with the word. Within this domain, his research has investigated the role of time in perceptual processing, dynamic adjustments that listeners make as a function of the input pattern, and how lexical (word-level) information may affect the perception of sublexical units (e.g., vowels, consonants, or syllables).
Speech Perception and Speech Production: Friends, Enemies or Frenemies?
A recent area of interest is the relationship between speech perception and speech production. Most people assume that these two abilities are tightly linked, with a positive relationship: Hearing a word or a new foreign sound will help a person to produce it, and practicing this production should help to solidify a person’s ability to perceive. Although there is evidence that under some circumstances this is true, the relationship is more complicated. The talk will cover several studies that show that producing newly-learned words or sounds can actually interfere with establishing functional perceptual representations of these words or sounds. These results have both theoretical and practical implications. At a theoretical level, they call for a more nuanced model of how speech perception and speech production operate and interact. The practical implication is that teachers in second-language learning classes may need to modify the common practice of saying a word and having the students repeat it aloud, as those conditions can undermine the establishment of functional representations for the newly-learned words.