Individual differences in plasticity in speech perception under cognitive load


The present study examines how and to what extent speech perception abilities are modulated by increased cognitive load in a dual task and whether individuals differ in the extent to which they adjust their cue weighting strategies in the utilization of multiple acoustic cues in this challenging condition. This study also investigates how individual differences in the adjustments of cue weighting strategies under cognitive load are related to individuals’ cognitive abilities. Native English listeners (N=54) were engaged in a dual task in which they completed a two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) identification task with a concurrent visual search task, after a baseline 2AFC task. Participants also completed cognitive tasks examining working memory capacity and inhibitory control. Results revealed that listeners overall showed increased cue weights under cognitive load, which may be interpreted as compensatory cue weighting strategies for adapting to phonetic categories under cognitive load. However, there were large individual differences in the extent to which these adaptive cue weighting strategies manifest and these individual differences were associated with individuals’ cognitive abilities. That is, individuals with better working memory and inhibitory control showed more increases in cue weights than those with poorer working memory and inhibitory control.

Linköping, Sweden