What comes next? We are constantly asking this question – whether in times of economical crisis, when crossing a street or when having an argument with someone. Making predictions about future events is essential for adapting our social actions. In the auditory domain, regular rhythmic patterns allow most efficiently to make predictions. Findings show that regular rhythm enhances memory, monitoring and processing of sound. While most of this research was done in cognitive sciences, studies are rare that investigate the benefits of predictable rhythm in speech. This proposal aims at clarifying under which conditions predictable rhythmic patterns in speech improve speech perception and production in healthy individuals and individuals with speech disorders (i.e. stutterers). As a novel approach, speech is examined in light of a general cognitive framework (Dynamic Attending Theory). This allows studying the benefits of predictable rhythm in speech in relation to other human rhythmic processes (i.e. in particular motor processes). A series of speech perception and production experiments is conducted. The perception experiment investigates how motor action couples with predictable rhythmic speech patterns in order to foster memory processes. The goal of the production tasks is to examine how predictable rhythmic structure in speech combined with other rhythmic activity facilitates fluent articulation in stutterers. The language of investigation is French which represents a major rhythmic type among the languages of the world. Results are compared to previously obtained results on German. This will highlight language-specificity and generality of rhythmic processes. The project is multidisciplinary: it involves theories and methods from language sciences as well as cognitive sciences. Results will have practical outcomes for speech therapy and will interest a wide range of disciplines such as phonetics, (psycho)linguistics, movement sciences and cognitive neurosciences.
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