Statistical Information Affects Spoken Word Recognition of Tone Languages in Stutterers: Evidence From an Auditory-Perceptual Gating Study

Jiaqiang Zhu, Jing Shao, Caicai Zhang*, Fei Chen*, Seth Wiener

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    Purpose: Previous studies have shown that individuals who stutter exhibit abnormal speech perception in addition to disfluent production as compared with their nonstuttering peers. This study investigated whether adult Chinese-speaking stutterers are still able to use knowledge of statistical regularities embedded in their native language to recognize spoken words and, if so, how much acoustic information is needed to trigger this information.

    Method: Seventeen stutterers and 20 typical, nonstuttering controls participated in a gating experiment. All participants listened to monosyllabic words that consisted of syllables and lexical tones and were segmented into eight successive gates. These words differed in syllable token frequency and syllable–tone co-occurrence probability in line with a Chinese spoken word corpus. The correct syllable-only, correct tone-only, correct syllable–tone word, and correct syllable–incorrect tone responses were analyzed between the two groups using mixed-effects models.

    Results: Stutterers were less accurate overall than controls, with fewer correct syllables, tones, and their combination as words. However, stutterers showed consistent and reliable perceptual patterns triggered by statistical information of speech, as reflected by more accurate responses to high-frequency syllables, high-probability tones, and tone errors all in manners similar to those of nonstuttering controls.

    Conclusions: Stutterers' atypical speech perception is not due to a lack of statistical learning. Stutterers were able to perceive spoken words with phonological tones based on statistical regularities embedded in their native speech. This finding echoes previous production studies of stuttering and lends some support for a link between perception and production. Implications of pathological, diagnostic, and therapeutic conditions of stuttering are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3382-3398
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
    Issue number9
    Early online date30 Aug 2023
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Speech and Hearing
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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