Presentation by Dr. Stefan R. Schweinberger
Abstract: While humans use their voice mainly for communicating information about the world, paralinguistic cues in the voice signal convey rich dynamic information about a speaker´s arousal and emotional state, and extralinguistic cues reflect more stable speaker characteristics including identity, biological sex and social gender, socioeconomic or regional background, and age. Here I discuss how recent methodological progress in voice morphing and voice synthesis has promoted research on current theoretical issues, such as how voices are mentally represented in the human brain. Special attention is dedicated to the distinction between the recognition of familiar and unfamiliar speakers, in everyday situations or in the forensic context, and on the processes and representational changes that accompany the learning of new voices. I describe how specific impairments and individual differences in voice perception could relate to (a) specific brain correlates or to (b) other impairments in high-level auditory perception, such as auditory agnosia or amusia. Finally, I consider that voices are produced by speakers who are often visible during communication, and present evidence that shows how speaker perception involves dynamic face-voice integration. Overall, the representation of para- and extralinguistic vocal information plays a major role in person perception and social communication, could be neuronally encoded in a prototype-referenced manner, and is subject to flexible adaptive recalibration as a result of specific perceptual experience.
Stefan R. Schweinberger, Ph.D.
DFG Research Unit Person Perception
Friedrich Schiller University, Jena