Award Date

August 2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Joel S. Snyder

Second Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Third Committee Member

Jefferson Kinney

Fourth Committee Member

Gabriele Wulf

Number of Pages

100

Abstract

An ability to segregate speech accurately is essential given that most auditory environments contain other overlapping conversations or environmental noise. While perceiving speech among background noise can be difficult in and of itself, those with hearing impairments can experience considerable difficulty. While training has been shown to benefit perceptual segregation of trained sounds, it is unclear how such training transfers to sounds not included in a training regimen. The current study aimed to address this question by training listeners on a portion of sounds during a vowel segregation task, and subsequently testing on both the trained sounds and untrained sounds. Additionally, the dependency on sleep in consolidating generalization was investigated by testing listeners at two additional time points: before sleep (12 hours later) and after sleep (24 hours later). Finally, neural correlates specific to generalization was investigated by recording brain activity (EEG) during all test and training sessions. Trained listeners significantly improved on trained and untrained vowel pairs, demonstrating training-induced learning and generalization. The control group also significantly improved across test sessions, demonstrating testing-induced learning. Spatio-temporal analyses of EEG data revealed that generalization learning was paralleled by a source configuration change, while rote learning was paralleled by a change in the power of the neural response. These results confirm that learning gained through speech segregation is generalizable to new sounds, as well as revealed a neural pattern of activity that may index the processes responsible for transferring learning to untrained sounds. Finally, time and additional practice appear to greater contribute to learning overall, as compared to sleep.

Keywords

Auditory Learning; Event-Related Potentials; Generalization; Spatio-Temporal Analyses

Disciplines

Cognitive Psychology | Medical Neurobiology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Neurosciences

Language

English


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