Zunaira J. iqbal

UC Merced

“Perception of Audiovisual Pairings Among Heritage Speakers of Spanish”

My research interests span across neurolinguistics, psycholinguistics, perceptual psychology, and bilingualism. Specifically, my work relates to speech perception in bilinguals, and how different contexts, such as noise, visual information, and attention play a role in shaping our perception.


Visual information can readily influence our perception of speech, even to the extent of causing us to perceive speech that is completely different from audio input. It has also been found that bilinguals are more influenced by visual mouth movements than their monolingual counterparts when comprehending speech in their second language. How does the presence of visual information influence speech perception in bilingual individuals who speak two languages that categorize certain phonemes differently? Here we conducted a behavioral study that investigated how the presence of visual mouth movements influence Spanish-English heritage speakers’ percepts along a /va/-/ba/ continuum. The phonemes /v/ and /b/ were selected since Spanish phonology maps the orthographic /v/ onto the /b/ phoneme, whereas English makes a clear distinction between these two phonemes. Results suggest that the presence of visual-mouth movements play a significant role in altering bilinguals’ speech perception, such that participants will often rely upon the viseme (i.e., visual mouth shape) when reporting what they heard.

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