Audio-Aerotactile Integration in Infant Speech Perception


  • Megan Keough University of British Columbia
  • Padmapriya Kandhadai University of British Columbia
  • Janet F Werker University of British Columbia
  • Bryan Gick


A growing body of literature provides evidence for the importance and integration of sensory modalities other than auditory in speech perception (e.g. vision, McGurk and MacDonald, 1976). Recent work (Gick & Derrick, 2009) has shown that aero-tactile information can influence speech perception. In this study, native English speakers were significantly more likely to perceive a consonant as aspirated when puffs of air were inaudibly applied to participants' skin, even if the token was unaspirated.

One possible source of a learned mapping between the auditory and aerotactile modalities in this effect could be the sensation of air puffs produced during one's own speech. To test this possibility, the current study tests whether this effect requires production experience with aspiration, by testing for the effect in prelinguistic (6-8 month-old) English-acquiring infants. If one's own speech production experience is not necessary, the infants should show the same effect as adults.

English-acquiring infants participated in an alternating/non-alternating sound presentation task, with a puff of air applied every other syllable to their neck. The tactile stimulus either reinforced or interfered with the aspiration distinction, thereby influencing the infant's perception of whether the trial was alternating. Measures of looking time, reflecting infants’ baseline ability to discriminate between two sounds, will be presented. Results provide insight into the developmental trajectory and origins of aero-tactile integration.



How to Cite

Keough M, Kandhadai P, Werker JF, Gick B. Audio-Aerotactile Integration in Infant Speech Perception. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2016 Aug. 18 [cited 2021 Dec. 3];44(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada

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