Silence-cued stop perception: Split decisions


  • Bridget Samuels University of Southern California
  • Bert Vaux University of Cambridge



Bastian, Eimas, & Liberman (1961) found that listeners heard a [p] when a silence of more than 50ms was inserted between the [s] and the [l] in a recording of the word slit. It has long been known that silence is an important cue in stop consonant perception. Nevertheless, it is surprising that a short interval of silence can substitute for something as acoustically and articulatorily complex as a phoneme. In the present work, we replicate and expand upon this study to further examine the phenomenon of silence-cued stop perception. We demonstrate the ‘Split Effect’ in a previously unexplored set of environments, analyze factors that contribute to the identity of silence-cued stops, and lay the groundwork for further investigation of the acoustic and non-acoustic factors that contribute to this perceptual illusion. Our study demonstrates an experimental paradigm for studying the genesis of such effects synchronically and in a controlled setting.