Effects of cognitive load on speech perception

Members of the general public are welcome to attend our seminars. However space is limited so if you would like to attend, please ring Sandra Smith at least 24 hours prior to the seminar on 0115 823 2634 to reserve a place. If Sandra Smith is unavailable contact Jan Kelly on 0115 823 2617 or contact reception on 0115 823 2600.

26 October 2015

Presenter(s): Dr Sven Mattys
Time: 13.00 -14.00
Location: NHBRU, Meeting Room 1



Improving the validity of speech-recognition models requires an understanding of how speech is processed in everyday life. Unlike listening conditions leading to a degradation of the signal (e.g., noise), adverse conditions that do not alter the integrity of the signal (e.g., cognitive load, CL) have been under-studied. Drawing upon behavioural and imaging methods, our research shows that CL reduces sensitivity to phonetic detail and increases reliance on lexical knowledge. Importantly, we also show that increased reliance on lexical knowledge under CL is a cascaded effect of impoverished phonetic processing, not a direct consequence of CL. A CL-related deactivation of parts of the auditory cortex associated with early phonetic analysis confirms the early, sensory locus of CL. Ways of integrating CL into the functional architecture of existing speech-recognition models are presented.


Sven Mattys is professor of psychology at the University of York, UK. He obtained his PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and did postdoctoral research at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles. He then moved to the University of Bristol, UK, where he lectured from 2001 to 2012 before moving to the University of York. His research focuses on the perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in recognising speech, with a special interest in the everyday circumstances under which speech is experienced, such as noise and divided attention. He is a member of the Marie Curie Training Network INSPIRE (Investigating Speech Processing in Realistic Environments) and principal investigator on an ESRC project entitled "Word learning in early, middle and late adulthood".