Dogs perceive and spontaneously normalise formant-related speaker and vowel differences in human speech sounds

Root-Gutteridge, Holly, Ratcliffe, Victoria F, Korzeniowska, Anna T and Reby, David (2019) Dogs perceive and spontaneously normalise formant-related speaker and vowel differences in human speech sounds. Biology Letters, 15 (12). pp. 1-5. ISSN 1744-9561

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Abstract

Domesticated animals have been shown to recognise basic phonemic information from human speech sounds and to recognise familiar speakers from their voices. However, whether animals can spontaneously identify words across unfamiliar speakers (speaker normalisation) or spontaneously discriminate between unfamiliar speakers across words remains to be investigated. Here, we assessed these abilities in domestic dogs using the habituation-dishabituation paradigm. We found that while dogs habituated to the presentation of a series of different short words from the same unfamiliar speaker, they significantly dishabituated to the presentation of a novel word from a new speaker of the same gender. This suggests that dogs spontaneously categorised the initial speaker across different words. Conversely, dogs who habituated to the same short word produced by different speakers of the same gender significantly dishabituated to a novel word, suggesting that they had spontaneously categorised the word across different speakers. Our results indicate that the ability to spontaneously recognise both the same phonemes across different speakers, and cues to identity across speech utterances from unfamiliar speakers, is present in domestic dogs and thus not a uniquely human trait.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 10:27
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2019 13:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88035

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