Individual differences in voice adaptability are specifically linked to voice perception skill

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There are remarkable individual differences in the ability to recognise individuals by the sound of their voice. Theoretically, this ability is thought to depend on the coding accuracy of voices in a low-dimensional “voice-space”. Here we were interested in how adaptive coding of voice identity relates to this variability in skill. In two adaptation experiments we explored first whether the aftereffect size to two familiar vocal identities can predict voice perception ability and second, whether this effect stems from general auditory skill (e.g. discrimination ability for tuning and tempo). Experiment 1 demonstrated that contrastive aftereffect sizes for voice identity predicted voice perception ability. In Experiment 2, we replicated this finding and further established that this effect is unrelated to general auditory abilities or general adaptability of listeners. Our results highlight the important functional role of adaptive coding in voice expertise and suggest that human voice perception is a highly specialised and distinct auditory ability.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104582
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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