Perceptual learning and speech perception: A new hypothesis
Perceptual learning for speech remains substantial even in older adults, but the functional significance of this observation is not well understood. It has been suggested that perceptual learning might serve to support listening in adverse conditions by promoting behavioural and neural plasticity, but this hypothesis is not consistent with the acoustic specificity of learning. Instead, we now suggest that in the context of speech perception, perceptual learning might be best viewed as one of the capacities that, like working memory, support speech perception in an on-line fashion. Consistent with this hypothesis, we present data that rapid perceptual learning of one speech task accounts for substantial individual differences in other speech tasks even after accounting for the potential correlations between different indices of speech perception.
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