Preperceptual Auditory Storage in Speech Recognition

  • Dominic W. Massaro
  • Michael M. Cohen
Part of the Communication and Cybernetics book series (COMMUNICATION, volume 11)


Given that the acoustic stimulus for speech perception is extended in time and that perception cannot be immediate, it seems necessary to postulate a preperceptual auditory storage that holds the first part of the sound pattern until it is complete and perception has occurred. The duration of this preperceptual auditory storage places an upper time limit on the sound patterns functional in speech recognition. A recognition masking task has been developed to study the properties of preperceptual auditory storage and the temporal course of the speech perception process. In this task, a short speech stimulus is preceded or followed after some variable silent interval by a second sound. Both sounds are presented at a normal listening intensity. A number of studies have shown that the second sound interferes with the perception of the first if the second sound is presented before recognition of the first is complete. Backward masking results have shown that speech perception is not immediate but requires time for the synthesis of the sound pattern held in preperceptual auditory storage. The present studies evaluate some of the properties of preperceptual auditory storage and the primary recognition process. The fact that a second sound can interfere with perception of a first sound even if the sounds are presented to opposite ears locates preperceptual auditory storage at a central rather than a peripheral level. A first sound can interfere with a second sound if the sounds occur within roughly 80 msec, whereas the second interferes with the first out to an intersound interval of roughly 250 msec.


Stimulus Onset Asynchrony Speech Recognition Speech Perception Speech Sound Sound Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dorman, M., Kewley-Post, D., Brady-Wood, S., & Turvey, M. Forward and backward masking of brief vowels. Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Research, 1973, 33, 93–100.Google Scholar
  2. Huggins, A. F. On perceptual integration of dichotically alternated pulse trains. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 1974, 56, 3, 939–943.CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Massaro, D. W. Preperceptual images, processing time, and perceptual units in auditory perception. Psychological Review, 1972, 79, 124–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Massaro, D. W. Perceptual units in speech recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1974, 102, 199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Massaro, D. W. Experimental Psychology and Information Processing. Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1975.Google Scholar
  6. Massaro, D. W., & Schmuller, J. Visual features, preperceptual storage and processing time in reading. In D. W. Massaro (Ed.), Understanding language: an information processing analysis of speech perception, reading, and psycholinguisties. New York: Academic Press, in press.Google Scholar
  7. Pisoni, D. B. Perceptual processing time for consonants and vowels. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 1973, 53, 1, 369. Also appears in Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Research, SR 31/32, 1972, 83–95TCrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Studdert-Kennedy, M. Speech perception. Haskins Laboratories: Status Report on Speech Research, SR-39/40, 1974.Google Scholar
  9. Wolf, C. D. G. An analysis of speech processing: some implications from studies of recognition masking. Unpublished dissertation, Brown University, 1974.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dominic W. Massaro
    • 1
  • Michael M. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PsychologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations