Seeing a talking face matters: Infants' segmentation of continuous auditory-visual speech
Tan, Sok Hui Jessica
Tan, S. H. J., Kalashnikova, M., & Burnham, D. (2023). Seeing a talking face matters: Infants' segmentation of continuous auditory-visual speech. Infancy, 28( 2), 277– 300. https://doi.org/10.1111/infa.12509
Visual speech cues from a speaker's talking face aid speech segmentation in adults, but despite the importance of speech segmentation in language acquisition, little is known about the possible influence of visual speech on infants' speech segmentation. Here, to investigate whether there is facilitation of speech segmentation by visual information, two groups of English-learning 7-month-old infants were presented with continuous speech passages, one group with auditory-only (AO) speech and the other with auditory-visual (AV) speech. Additionally, the possible relation between infants' relative attention to the speaker's mouth versus eye regions and their segmentation performance was examined. Both the AO and the AV groups of infants successfully segmented words from the continuous speech stream, but segmentation performance persisted for longer for infants in the AV group. Interestingly, while AV group infants showed no significant relation between the relative amount of time spent fixating the speaker's mouth versus eyes and word segmentation, their attention to the mouth was greater than that of AO group infants, especially early in test trials. The results are discussed in relation to the possible pathways through which visual speech cues aid speech perception.