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Listening in a second language: a pupillometric investigation of the effect of semantic and acoustic cues on listening effort

Borghini, Giulia; (2019) Listening in a second language: a pupillometric investigation of the effect of semantic and acoustic cues on listening effort. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Non-native listeners live a great part of their day immersed in a second language environment. Challenges arise because many linguistic interactions happen in noisy environments, and because their linguistic knowledge is imperfect. Pupillometry was shown to provide a reliable measure of cognitive effort during listening. This research aims to investigate by means of pupillometry how listening effort is modulated by the intelligibility level of the listening task, the availability of contextual and acoustic cues and by the language background of listeners (native vs non-native). In Study 1, listening effort in native and non-native listeners was evaluated during a sentence perception task in noise across different intelligibility levels. Results indicated that listening effort was increased for non-native compared to native listeners, when the intelligibility levels were equated across the two groups. In Study 2, using a similar method, materials included predictable and semantically anomalous sentences, presented in a plain and a clear speaking style. Results confirmed an increased listening effort for non-native compared to native listeners. Listening effort was overall reduced when participants attended to clear speech. Moreover, effort reduction after the sentence ended was delayed for less proficient non-native listeners. In Study 3, the contribution of semantic content spanning over several sentences was evaluated using lists of semantically related and unrelated stimuli. The presence of semantic cues across sentences led to a reduction in listening effort for native listeners as reflected by the peak pupil dilation, while non-native listeners did not show the same benefit. In summary, this research consistently showed an increased listening effort for non-native compared to native listeners, at equated levels of intelligibility. Additionally, the use of a clear speaking style proved to be an effective strategy to enhance comprehension and to reduce cognitive effort in native and non-native listeners.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Listening in a second language: a pupillometric investigation of the effect of semantic and acoustic cues on listening effort
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10085853
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