Effects of differences in fundamental frequency on across-formant grouping in speech perception

Robert J. Summers, Peter J. Bailey, Brian Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In an isolated syllable, a formant will tend to be segregated perceptually if its fundamental frequency (F0) differs from that of the other formants. This study explored whether similar results are found for sentences, and specifically whether differences in F0 (?F0) also influence across-formant grouping in circumstances where the exclusion or inclusion of the manipulated formant critically determines speech intelligibility. Three-formant (F1 + F2 + F3) analogues of almost continuously voiced natural sentences were synthesized using a monotonous glottal source (F0 = 150 Hz). Perceptual organization was probed by presenting stimuli dichotically (F1 + F2C + F3; F2), where F2C is a competitor for F2 that listeners must resist to optimize recognition. Competitors were created using time-reversed frequency and amplitude contours of F2, and F0 was manipulated (?F0 = ±8, ±2, or 0 semitones relative to the other formants). Adding F2C typically reduced intelligibility, and this reduction was greatest when ?F0 = 0. There was an additional effect of absolute F0 for F2C, such that competitor efficacy was greater for higher F0s. However, competitor efficacy was not due to energetic masking of F3 by F2C. The results are consistent with the proposal that a grouping “primitive” based on common F0 influences the fusion and segregation of concurrent formants in sentence perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3667-3677
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

Bibliographical note

Poster presentations on this research were given at the 157th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (Portland, OR, May 2009) and at the British Society of Audiology Short Papers Meeting on Experimental Studies of Hearing and Deafness (University of Southampton, September 2009).


  • isolated syllables
  • cross-formant perceptual grouping
  • common fundamental frequency


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