Modeling Rhythm in Speech as in Music: Towards a Unified Cognitive Representation
Ruolan Li, Naomi Feldman, University of Maryland, United States; Thomas Schatz, Aix Marseille University & CNRS, France
Posters 2 Poster
Pacific Ballroom H-O
Fri, 26 Aug, 19:30 - 21:30 Pacific Time (UTC -8)
Rhythm plays an important role in language perception and learning, with infants perceiving rhythmic differences across languages at birth. While the mechanisms underlying rhythm perception in speech remain unclear, one interesting possibility is that these mechanisms are similar to those involved in the perception of musical rhythm. In this work, we adopt a model originally designed for musical rhythm to simulate speech rhythm perception. We show that this model replicates the behavioral results of language discrimination in newborns, and outperforms an existing model of infant language discrimination. We also find that percussives — fast-changing components in the acoustics — are necessary for distinguishing languages of different rhythms, which suggests that percussives are essential for rhythm perception. Our music-inspired model of speech rhythm may be seen as a first step towards a unified theory of how rhythm is represented in speech and music.