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That voice sounds familiar : factors in speaker recognition

by Eriksson, Erik J.

Abstract (Summary)
Humans have the ability to recognize other humans by voice alone. This is important both socially and for the robustness of speech perception. This Thesis contains a set of eight studies that investigates how different factors impact on speaker recognition and how these factors can help explain how listeners perceive and evaluate speaker identity. The first study is a review paper overviewing emotion decoding and encoding research. The second study compares the relative importance of the emotional tone in the voice and the emotional content of the message. A mismatch between these was shown to impact upon decoding speed. The third study investigates the factor dialect in speaker recognition and shows, using a bidialectal speaker as the target voice to control all other variables, that the dominance of dialect cannot be overcome. The fourth paper investigates if imitated stage dialects are as perceptually dominant as natural dialects. It was found that a professional actor could disguise his voice successfully by imitating a dialect, yet that a listener's proficiency in a language or accent can reduce susceptibility to a dialect imitation. Papers five to seven focus on automatic techniques for speaker separation. Paper five shows that a method developed for Australian English diphthongs produced comparable results with a Swedish glide + vowel transition. The sixth and seventh papers investigate a speaker separation technique developed for American English. It was found that the technique could be used to separate Swedish speakers and that it is robust against professional imitations. Paper eight investigates how age and hearing impact upon earwitness reliability. This study shows that a senior citizen with corrected hearing can be as reliable an earwitness as a younger adult with no hearing problem, but suggests that a witness' general cognitive skill deterioration needs to be considered when assessing a senior citizen's earwitness evidence. On the basis of the studies a model of speaker recognition is presented, based on the face recognition model by V. Bruce and Young (1986; British Journal of Psychology, 77, pp. 305 - 327) and the voice recognition model by Belin, Fecteau and B├ędard (2004; TRENDS in Cognitive Science, 8, pp. 129 - 134). The merged and modified model handles both familiar and unfamiliar voices. The findings presented in this Thesis, in particular the findings of the individual papers in Part II, have implications for criminal cases in which speaker recognition forms a part. The findings feed directly into the growing body of forensic phonetic and forensic linguistic research.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:TECHNOLOGY; Information technology; Computer science; Cognitive science; speaker recognition; accent; emotions; hearing; spectral moments; formant transitions; dialect

ISBN:978-91-7264-311-6

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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