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Automatic imitation of human and computer-generated vocal stimuli

Wilt, Hannah; Wu, Yuchunzi; Trotter, Antony; Adank, Patti; (2022) Automatic imitation of human and computer-generated vocal stimuli. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 10.3758/s13423-022-02218-6. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Observing someone perform an action automatically activates neural substrates associated with executing that action. This covert response, or automatic imitation, is measured behaviourally using the stimulus–response compatibility (SRC) task. In an SRC task, participants are presented with compatible and incompatible response–distractor pairings (e.g., an instruction to say “ba” paired with an audio recording of “da” as an example of an incompatible trial). Automatic imitation is measured as the difference in response times (RT) or accuracy between incompatible and compatible trials. Larger automatic imitation effects have been interpreted as a larger covert imitation response. Past results suggest that an action’s biological status affects automatic imitation: Human-produced manual actions show enhanced automatic imitation effects compared with computer-generated actions. Per the integrated theory for language comprehension and production, action observation triggers a simulation process to recognize and interpret observed speech actions involving covert imitation. Human-generated actions are predicted to result in increased automatic imitation because the simulation process is predicted to engage more for actions produced by a speaker who is more similar to the listener. We conducted an online SRC task that presented participants with human and computer-generated speech stimuli to test this prediction. Participants responded faster to compatible than incompatible trials, showing an overall automatic imitation effect. Yet the human-generated and computer-generated vocal stimuli evoked similar automatic imitation effects. These results suggest that computer-generated speech stimuli evoke the same covert imitative response as human stimuli, thus rejecting predictions from the integrated theory of language comprehension and production.

Type: Article
Title: Automatic imitation of human and computer-generated vocal stimuli
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3758/s13423-022-02218-6
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-022-02218-6
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Imitation, Speech perception, Speech production, Vocal
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10160883
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