Context Effect in the Categorical Perception of Mandarin Tones

Fei Chen, Gang Peng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The categorical perception of tones is based not only on word-internal F0 cues but also on external F0 cues in the contexts. The present study focuses on the effects of different types of preceding contexts on Mandarin tone perception. In the experiment, subjects were required to identify a target tone with the preceding context. The target tone was from a tone continuum ranging from Mandarin Tone 1 (high-level tone) to Tone 2 (mid-rising tone). It was preceded by four types of contexts (normal speech, reversal speech, fine-structure sound, and non-speech) with different mean F0 values. Results indicate that the categorical perception of Mandarin tones is influenced only by the normal speech context, and the effect is contrastive. For instance, in a normal speech context with a higher mean F0, the following tone is more likely to be perceived as a lower-frequency tone (Tone 2), whereas with a lower mean F0, the following tone is more likely to be perceived as a higher-frequency tone (Tone 1). These findings suggest that Mandarin tone normalization is mediated by speech-specific processes and that the speech context needs to be intelligible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Signal Processing Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Categorical perception
  • Context effect
  • Mandarin tone
  • Speech-specific mechanisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing
  • Theoretical Computer Science


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