Effects of fundamental frequency and vocal-tract length changes on attention to one of two simultaneous talkers

Christopher J. Darwin*, Douglas S. Brungart, Brian D. Simpson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


Three experiments used the Coordinated Response Measure task to examine the roles that differences in F0 and differences in vocal-tract length have on the ability to attend to one of two simultaneous speech signals. The first experiment asked how increases in the natural F0 difference between two sentences (originally spoken by the same talker) affected listeners' ability to attend to one of the sentences. The second experiment used differences in vocal-tract length, and the third used both F0 and vocal-tract length differences. Differences in F0 greater than 2 semitones produced systematic improvements in performance. Differences in vocal-tract length produced systematic improvements in performance when the ratio of lengths was 1.08 or greater, particularly when the shorter vocal tract belonged to the target talker. Neither of these manipulations produced improvements in performance as great as those produced by a different-sex talker. Systematic changes in both F0 and vocal-tract length that simulated an incremental shift in gender produced substantially larger improvements in performance than did differences in F0 or vocal-tract length alone. In general, shifting one of two utterances spoken by a female voice towards a male voice produces a greater improvement in performance than shifting male towards female. The increase in performance varied with the intonation patterns of individual talkers, being smallest for those talkers who showed most variability in their intonation patterns between different utterances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2913-2922
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


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