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High variability phonetic training in adaptive adverse conditions is rapid, effective, and sustained

Leong, Christine Xiang Ru; Price, Jessica M.; Pitchford, Nicola J.; van Heuven, Walter J.B.


Christine Xiang Ru Leong

Jessica M. Price

Professor of Developmental Psychology


This paper evaluates a novel high variability phonetic training paradigm that involves presenting spoken words in adverse conditions. The effectiveness, generalizability, and longevity of this high variability phonetic training in adverse conditions was evaluated using English phoneme contrasts in three experiments with Malaysian multilinguals. Adverse conditions were created by presenting spoken words against background multi-talker babble. In Experiment 1, the adverse condition level was set at a fixed level throughout the training and in Experiment 2 the adverse condition level was determined for each participant before training using an adaptive staircase procedure. To explore the effectiveness and sustainability of the training, phonemic discrimination ability was assessed before and immediately after training (Experiments 1 and 2) and 6 months after training (Experiment 3). Generalization of training was evaluated within and across phonemic contrasts using trained and untrained stimuli. Results revealed significant perceptual improvements after just three 20-minute training sessions and these improvements were maintained after 6 months. The training benefits also generalized from trained to untrained stimuli. Crucially, perceptual improvements were significantly larger when the adverse conditions were adapted before each training session than when it was set at a fixed level. As the training improvements observed here are markedly larger than those reported in the literature, this indicates that the individualized phonetic training regime in adaptive adverse conditions (HVPT-AAC) is highly effective at improving speech perception.


Leong, C. X. R., Price, J. M., Pitchford, N. J., & van Heuven, W. J. (2018). High variability phonetic training in adaptive adverse conditions is rapid, effective, and sustained. PLoS ONE, 13(10), 1-24.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 9, 2018
Publication Date Oct 9, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 10, 2018
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 10
Article Number e0204888
Pages 1-24
Public URL
Publisher URL


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