Adam Tierney's research while affiliated with Birkbeck, University of London and other places

Publications (46)

Article
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Growing evidence suggests a broad relationship between individual differences in auditory processing ability and the rate and ultimate attainment of language acquisition throughout the lifespan, including post-pubertal second language (L2) speech learning. However, little is known about how the precision of processing of specific auditory dimension...
Preprint
What, if any, similarities and differences between song and speech are consistent across cultures? Both song and speech are found in all known human societies and are argued to share evolutionary roots and cognitive resources, yet no studies have compared similarities and differences between song and speech across languages on a global scale. We wi...
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This article proposes a conceptual and measurement framework for postpubertal, L2 speech learning aptitude that is centered around domain-general auditory processing (i.e., representing spectral and temporal characteristics of sounds). To this end, we examine the construct and reliability of a battery of auditory processing tests by presenting the...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Listeners build up statistically driven expectations of what they will hear; however, there is no consensus on how these statistics influence perception, attention, and behavior. Here, we manipulate two statistical properties: global probability (the likelihood of single ‘sound events’) and predictiveness (how often does o...
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No PDF available ABSTRACT In everyday situations, listeners may selectively attend to acoustic dimensions (e.g., frequency) within complex sounds and ignore other simultaneous dimensions. Speech sound categories are defined over multiple dimensions that vary in informativeness; thus, speech perception may demand selective attention to diagnostic di...
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Recent evidence suggests that domain-general auditory processing (sensitivity to the spectro-temporal characteristics of sounds) helps determine individual differences in L2 speech acquisition outcomes. The current study examined the extent to which focused training could enhance auditory processing ability, and whether this had a concomitant impac...
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Segmental speech units such as phonemes are described as multidimensional categories whose perception involves contributions from multiple acoustic input dimensions, and the relative perceptual weights of these dimensions respond dynamically to context. For example, when speech is altered to create an “accent” in which two acoustic dimensions are c...
Preprint
The auditory world is often cacophonous, with some sounds capturing attention and distracting us from our goals. Despite the universality of this experience, many questions remain about how and why sound captures attention, how rapidly behavior is disrupted, and how long this interference lasts. Here we use a novel measure of behavioral disruption...
Article
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Scholars have extensively investigated the effectiveness of high variability phonetic training (HVPT), that is, identification and discrimination of second language speech sounds produced by multiple speakers followed by trial‐by‐trial feedback. Building on the notion of incidental and multimodal learning in cognitive psychology (e.g., Lim & Holt,...
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Recently, scholars have begun to explore the hypothesis that individual differences in domain-general auditory perception, which has been identified as an anchor of L1 acquisition, could explain some variance in post-pubertal L2 learners' segmental and suprasegmental learning in immersive settings. The current study set out to examine the generaliz...
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Extending the paradigm in L1 acquisition, scholars have begun to investigate whether participants' domain-general ability to represent, encode, and integrate spectral and temporal dimensions of sounds (i.e., auditory processing) could be a potential determinant of the outcomes of post-pubertal L2 speech learning. The current study set out to test t...
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To make sense of complex soundscapes, listeners must select and attend to task-relevant streams while ignoring uninformative sounds. One possible neural mechanism underlying this process is alignment of endogenous oscillations with the temporal structure of the target sound stream. Such a mechanism has been suggested to mediate attentional modulati...
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Growing evidence suggests that auditory processing ability may a crucial determinant of language learning, including adult second language (L2) speech learning. The current study tested 47 Chinese English-as-a-Foreign-Language students to examine the extent to which two types of auditory processing-perceptual acuity and audio-motor integration-rela...
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While there is evidence for bilingual enhancements of inhibitory control and auditory processing, two processes that are fundamental to daily communication, it is not known how bilinguals utilize these cognitive and sensory enhancements during real-world listening. To test our hypothesis that bilinguals engage their enhanced cognitive and sensory p...
Article
In the speech-to-song illusion, certain spoken phrases are perceived as sung after repetition. One possible explanation for this increase in musicality is that, as phrases are repeated, lexical activation dies off, enabling listeners to focus on the melodic and rhythmic characteristics of stimuli and assess them for the presence of musical structur...
Article
Prosody can be defined as the rhythm and intonation patterns spanning words, phrases and sentences. Accurate perception of prosody is an important component of many aspects of language processing, such as parsing grammatical structures, recognizing words, and determining where emphasis may be placed. Prosody perception is important for language acq...
Article
The onset of reading ability is rife with individual differences, with some children termed “early readers” and some falling behind from the very beginning. Reading skill in children has been linked to an ability to remember nonverbal rhythms, specifically in the auditory modality. It has been hypothesized that the link between rhythm skills and re...
Preprint
Speech perception requires the integration of evidence from acoustic cues across multiple dimensions. Individuals differ in their cue weighting strategies, i.e. the weight they assign to different acoustic dimensions during speech categorization. In two experiments, we investigate musical training as one potential predictor of individual difference...
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To date, a growing number of studies have shown that domain-general auditory processing, which prior work has linked to L1 acquisition, could explain various dimensions of naturalistic L2 speech proficiency. The current study examined the generalizability of this topic to L2 speech learning in classroom settings. The spontaneous speech samples of E...
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Cross-cultural musical analysis requires standardized symbolic representation of sounds such as score notation. However, transcription into notation is usually conducted manually by ear, which is time-consuming and subjective. Our aim is to evaluate the reliability of existing methods for transcribing songs from diverse societies. We had 3 experts...
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From auditory perception to general cognition, the ability to play a musical instrument has been associated with skills both related and unrelated to music. However, it is unclear if these effects are bound to the specific characteristics of musical instrument training, as little attention has been paid to other populations whose auditory expertise...
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In the speech-to-song illusion certain spoken phrases are perceived as sung after repetition. Prior work has established that perception of the illusion is not limited to specialist listeners, such as individuals with musical training, but is perceived widely across the general population. However, little is known about whether there are stable ind...
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Whereas a growing amount of attention has been directed to the role of perceptual-cognitive aptitude in successful second language (L2) lexicogrammar learning, scholars have begun to investigate the same topic in the context of L2 pronunciation learning. To date, there is ongoing discussion on the mechanism underlying L2 speech learning in relation...
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Precise auditory perception at a subcortical level (neural representation and encoding of sound) has been suggested as a form of implicit L2 aptitude in naturalistic settings. Emerging evidence suggests that such implicit aptitude explains some variance in L2 speech perception and production among adult learners with different first language backgr...
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Reading skills are usually assessed in silent conditions, but children often experience noisy educational settings. Effects of auditory distraction on children's reading skills remain relatively unexplored. The present study investigates the influence of two features of background speech—intelligibility and loudness—on children's reading speed and...
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In the cognitive psychology literature, auditory processing has been extensively researched and suggested as a foundation of first language acquisition in childhood. This study tests an emerging theoretical view that the same faculty underpins post-pubertal L2 pronunciation learning. A total of 100 late English-Polish bilinguals in the UK with dive...
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To extract meaningful information from complex auditory scenes like a noisy playground, rock concert, or classroom, children can direct attention to different sound streams. One means of accomplishing this might be to align neural activity with the temporal structure of a target stream, such as a specific talker or melody. However, this may be more...
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Individuals with congenital amusia have a lifelong history of unreliable pitch processing. Accordingly, they downweight pitch cues during speech perception and instead rely on other dimensions such as duration. We investigated the neural basis for this strategy. During fMRI, individuals with amusia (N=15) and controls (N=15) read sentences where a...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with congenital amusia have a lifelong history of unreliable pitch processing. Accordingly, they downweight pitch cues during speech perception and instead rely on other dimensions such as duration. We investigated the neural basis for this strategy. During fMRI, individuals with amusia (N = 15) and controls (N = 15) read sentences wher...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals with congenital amusia have a lifelong history of unreliable pitch processing. Accordingly, they downweight pitch cues during speech perception and instead rely on other dimensions such as duration. We investigated the neural basis for this strategy. During fMRI, individuals with amusia (N = 15) and controls (N = 15) read sentences wher...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we propose a hypothesis that domain-general auditory processing, a perceptual-cognitive anchor of L1 acquisition, can serve as an important deciding factor for successful post-pubertal L2 pronunciation learning. To examine this hypothesis, samples of spontaneous speech were elicited from a total of 30 L1 Chinese L2 English learners a...
Preprint
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Scientists studying music and evolution often discuss similarities and differences between music, language, and bird song, but few studies have simultaneously compared these three domains quantitatively. To enable such com-parison, here we demonstrate several methods of cross-cultural/cross-species comparison of pitch structures in audio recordings...
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In this brief report, we examined the test-retest reliability of our in-house explicit auditory processing measures in the context of 30 L1 and L2 English users. The participants took the same test battery which consisted of a total of four discrimination tasks (encoding acoustic details of formant, pitch, duration, and rise time) and two reproduct...
Article
Prosody can be defined as the rhythm and intonation patterns spanning words, phrases and sentences. Accurate perception of prosody is an important component of many aspects of language processing, such as parsing grammatical structures, recognizing words, and determining where emphasis may be placed. Prosody perception is important for language acq...
Preprint
Acoustic dimensions important in a person's native language have been shown to influence second language perception. Here we show that such effects can extend beyond language. In two experiments, native speakers of Mandarin (N=45) - where pitch is a crucial cue to word identity - placed more importance on pitch and less importance on other dimensio...
Preprint
Individuals with congenital amusia have a lifelong history of unreliable pitch processing. Accordingly, they downweight pitch cues during speech perception (even large, obvious ones) and instead rely on other dimensions such as duration. We investigated the neural basis for this strategy. During fMRI, individuals with amusia and controls (N=30) mat...
Article
Perception involves integration of multiple dimensions that often serve overlapping, redundant functions, e.g. pitch, duration, and amplitude in speech. Individuals tend to prioritize these dimensions differently (stable, individualized perceptual ‘strategies’) but the reason for this has remained unclear. Here we show that perceptual strategies re...
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The structure of musical scales has been proposed to reflect universal bioacoustic principles based on simple integer ratios. However, some researchers who have studied tuning in small samples of non-Western cultures have argued that such ratios are instead specific to Western music. To address this debate, we algorithmically analyzed and cross-cul...
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The uniqueness of human music relative to speech and animal song has been extensively debated, but never directly measured. To address this, we applied an automated scale analysis algorithm to a sample of 86 recordings of human music, human speech, and bird songs from around the world. We found that human music throughout the world uniquely emphasi...
Article
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There is a great deal of individual variability in outcome in second language learning, the sources of which are still poorly understood. We hypothesized that individual differences in auditory processing may account for some variability in second language learning. We tested this hypothesis by examining psychoacoustic thresholds, auditory-motor te...
Preprint
How does the brain follow a sound that is mixed with others in a noisy environment? A possible strategy is to allocate attention to task-relevant time intervals while suppressing irrelevant intervals - a strategy that could be implemented by aligning neural modulations with critical moments in time. Here we tested whether selective attention to non...
Preprint
In speech, linguistic information is conveyed redundantly by many simultaneously present acoustic dimensions, such as fundamental frequency, duration and amplitude. Listeners show stable tendencies to prioritize these acoustic dimensions differently, relative to one another, which suggests individualized speech perception ‘strategies’. However, it...
Article
The contribution of acoustic dimensions to an auditory percept is dynamically adjusted and reweighted based on prior experience about how informative these dimensions are across the long-term and short-term environment. This is especially evident in speech perception, where listeners differentially weight information across multiple acoustic dimens...
Article
In the “speech-to-song illusion,” certain spoken phrases are heard as highly song-like when isolated from context and repeated. This phenomenon occurs to a greater degree for some stimuli than for others, suggesting that particular cues prompt listeners to perceive a spoken phrase as song. Here we investigated the nature of these cues across four e...
Article
Certain spoken phrases, when removed from context and repeated, begin to sound as if they were sung. Prior work has uncover ed several acoustic factors which determine wh ether a phrase sounds sung after repetition . However, the reason why repetition is necessary for song to be perceived in speech is unclear . One possibility is that by default pi...

Citations

... ;https://doi.org/10.1101https://doi.org/10. /2022 from these English norms leads to a rapid shift in how F0 influences speech categorization, such that it is no longer reliably conveys category identity (Idemaru & Holt, 2011Jasmin et al., 2022;Lehet & Holt, 2017Liu & Holt, 2015;Schertz et al., 2016;Schertz & Clare, 2019;Wu & Holt, 2022;H. Zhang et al., 2022;X. ...
... These efforts have been mostly driven by practical learning outcomes and advances in speech technology rather than being designed to test scientific hypotheses, although a production training game based on speech technology has been used successfully in phonetic perception experiments (Ylinen et al., 2021). Wade and Holt (2005) developed an animated shooting game to examine implicit auditory category learning (i.e., when sound recognition is not an explicit requirement of the game); adults can improve on stimuli used in the game (e.g., Japanese learners of English /r/ and /l/), but this training effect has not robustly generalised to untrained stimuli (Lim and Holt, 2011;Saito et al., 2022). The present memory-card training paradigm similarly allows implicit learning to be explored by manipulating the pictures on the cards and other feedback (e.g., no picture for explicit learning; matched pictures for implicit learning), except within a less visually and motorically complex game, compared to a shooting task, that many parents and children already like to play. ...
... Accordingly, researchers argue that cognitive neuroscience has undergone a Kuhnian shift away from the Modularity of the Mind (mostly bottom-up) toward predictive accounts of cognition that emphasise and formalise recursive relationships in which the relative dominance of bottom-up and top-down influences varies dynamically (Asprem, 2019). Predictive accounts of cognition have become predominant as explanations of cognitive processes based on a large amount of scientific evidence for the role of domain-general over domain-specific processing, disputing the information encapsulation supposed by the Modularity of the Mind (Kalén et al. 2021, Nair et al. 2021Mononen, Gerlach et al. 2022;Niemivirta and Korhonen, 2022;Saito et al. 2022). Another scientific finding challenging the Modularity of the Mind framework is the role of top-down effects on lower-level cognition. ...
... The emerging findings in support of the relatively strong connection between auditory processing and post-pubertal L2 speech acquisition have been replicated with other groups of L2 learners with diverse L1 backgrounds (e.g., Chinese, Polish, Spanish; Saito, Sun, Kachlicka, Robert, Nakata & Tierney, 2021b) across different dimensions of L2 learning (e.g., Kachlicka et al., 2019 andSaito, Macmillan, Kroeger, Magne, Takizawa, Kachlicka & for lexicogrammar learning; Saito, Sun & Tierney, 2019;Saito, Kachlicka, Sun & Tierney, 2020a;Saito, Suzukida, Tran & Tierney, 2021a for speech production) from both cross-sectional and longitudinal perspectives (Saito et al., 2020b;Sun et al., 2021). On the whole, it seems that the outcomes of L2 speech learning could be EQUALLY affected by factors related to auditory processing and biographical backgrounds. ...
... To prove the CAUSAL relationship between auditory processing, cognitive abilities, experience, and L2 speech learning, a longitudinal study is strongly called for. One promising direction concerns aptitudetreatment interaction: future studies can investigate how those with different auditory and cognitive aptitude can differentially enhance both perception and production skills when they immerse in an L2 speaking environment for a prolonged period of time (e.g., Sun et al., 2021), and/or when they receive different types of instruction (e.g., Perrachione et al., 2011 for perceptionbased training [high variability phonetic training]; Shao, Saito & Tierney, 2022 for production-based training [shadowing]). ...
... The experiment was created using The Gorilla Experiment Builder (gorilla.sc). Gorilla efficiently runs reaction-time-sensitive behavioural experiments (Anwyl-Irvine, Dalmaijer, Hodges & Evershed, 2020a, 2020bMassonnié, Rogers, Mareschal & Kirkham, 2019), and has been successfully used to display auditory narratives (Richardson et al., 2020), and to measure speech perception (Tierney, Patel, Jasmin & Breen, 2021). ...
... We used the Prolific online research platform to recruit the participants. Considering how monolingual and bilingual individuals perform differently in competitive talking scenarios on the neural and cognitive levels [36], participants were recruited from monolingual English-speaking people, currently residing in the United States of America, who were screened by Prolific not to have any hearing difficulties and had no understanding of the Russian language. Participants were asked to wear headphones during the task and attend the task in a quiet room. ...
... The tokens were created by recording the voice of a native English speaker speaking the phrases "Dave likes to STUDY music" (early focus) and "Dave likes to study MUSIC" (late focus), with emphasis placed either on STUDY, or MUSIC. The two recordings were then "morphed" together using STRAIGHT software (Jasmin et al., 2020a, b, c;Jasmin et al., 2021;Kawahara & Irino, 2005): The F0 was extracted from voiced segments of the two utterances; next, aperiodic aspects of the signal were identified and analyzed; then, the filter characteristics of the signal were calculated. Finally, the two "morphing substrates" (speech from each recording decomposed into F0, aperiodic aspects, and filter characteristics) were manually time aligned by marking corresponding "anchor points" in both recordings. ...
... Second, these features have reliably evoked additive MMN(m) responses in previous research; specifically, additivity has been demonstrated for frequency and intensity (e.g., Paavilainen et al., 2001) and frequency and location (e.g., Schröger, 1995), but not yet for location and intensity or for all three features together. Third, expertise-related selectivity for some of these features over others has been demonstrated in other contexts (Symons and Tierney, 2021). Finally, the restriction to three features balances representability and generalizability with practical feasibility within the typical timeframe of an MEG experiment. ...
... Individuals differ greatly in their abilities to encode various dimensions of sounds (e. g., pitch, formants, duration, and amplitude; Kidd et al., 2007). There is cross-sectional evidence for the correlations between individual differences in auditory processing in normal-hearing children and a range of language outcomes (e.g., speech-in-noise perception, vocabulary use, literacy, and phonological awareness; Anvari, Trainor, Woodside, & Levy, 2002;Bavin, Grayden, Scott, & Stefanakis, 2010;Boets, Wouters, Van Wieringen, De Smedt, & Ghesquiere, 2008;Douglas & Willatts, 1994;Lamb & Gregory, 1993;Talcott et al., 2000;Tierney, Gomez, Fedele, & Kirkham, 2021). Furthermore, Kalashnikova, Goswami, and Burnham's (2019) recent longitudinal investigation showed that auditory processing was a predictor of L1 vocabulary development within the first three years of life. ...