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  • 1.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    A Theory That Never Was: Wrong Way to the “Dawn of Speech”2024In: Biolinguistics, ISSN 1450-3417, Vol. 18, article id e14285Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Recent literature argues that a purportedly long-standing theory—so-called “laryngeal descent theory”—in speech evolution has been refuted (Boë et al., 2019, https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaw3916). However, an investigation into the relevant source material reveals that the theory described has never been a prominent line of thinking in speech-centric sciences. The confusion arises from a fundamental misunderstanding: the argument that the descent of the larynx and the accompanying changes in the hominin vocal tract expanded the range of possible speech sounds for human ancestors (a theory that enjoys wide interdisciplinary support) is mistakenly interpreted as a belief that all speech was impossible without such changes—a notion that was never widely endorsed in relevant literature. This work aims not to stir controversy but to highlight important historical context in the study of speech evolution.

  • 2.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Ape Vowel-like Sounds Remain Elusive: A Comment on Grawunder et al. (2022)2022In: International journal of primatology, ISSN 0164-0291, E-ISSN 1573-8604Article in journal (Refereed)
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  • 3.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Motor constellation theory: A model of infants’ phonological development2022In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 13, article id 996894Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Every normally developing human infant solves the difficult problem of mapping their native-language phonology, but the neural mechanisms underpinning this behavior remain poorly understood. Here, motor constellation theory, an integrative neurophonological model, is presented, with the goal of explicating this issue. It is assumed that infants' motor-auditory phonological mapping takes place through infants' orosensory "reaching" for phonological elements observed in the language-specific ambient phonology, via reference to kinesthetic feedback from motor systems (e.g., articulators), and auditory feedback from resulting speech and speech-like sounds. Attempts are regulated by basal ganglion-cerebellar speech neural circuitry, and successful attempts at reproduction are enforced through dopaminergic signaling. Early in life, the pace of anatomical development constrains mapping such that complete language-specific phonological mapping is prohibited by infants' undeveloped supralaryngeal vocal tract and undescended larynx; constraints gradually dissolve with age, enabling adult phonology. Where appropriate, reference is made to findings from animal and clinical models. Some implications for future modeling and simulation efforts, as well as clinical settings, are also discussed.

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  • 4.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Predicting linguistic universality through reverse engineering2023In: Nature Reviews Psychology, E-ISSN 2731-0574, Vol. 2, no 10, p. 587-Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 5.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Viki’s First Words: A Comparative Phonetics Case Study2023In: International journal of primatology, ISSN 0164-0291, E-ISSN 1573-8604, Vol. 44, no 2, p. 249-253Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    What's next for size-sound symbolism?2022In: Frontiers in Language Sciences, E-ISSN 2813-4605, Vol. 1Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This text reviews recent research in phonetic size-sound symbolism – non-arbitrary attributions of size properties to speech acoustic properties. Evidence from a wide range of research works is surveyed, and recent findings from research on the relationships between fundamental frequency, vowel articulation, consonant articulation, phonation type, mora count, and phonemic position, are discussed. It is argued that a satisfactory explanatory model of phonetic size-sound symbolism should meet two criteria: they should be able to explain both (1) the relationship between size and speech acoustics (Association criterion), and (2) the inconsistent findings observed across languages in the relevant literature (the Inconsistency criterion). Five theories are briefly discussed: The frequency code, Embodied cognition, Sound-meaning bootstrapping, Sapir-Whorf hypotheses, and Stochastic drift. It is contended that no currently available explanatory model of size-sound symbolism adequately meets both criteria (1) and (2), but that a combination of perspectives may provide much of the necessary depth. Future directions are also discussed.

     

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  • 7.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Edlund, Jens
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Evolution of the human tongue and emergence of speech biomechanics2023In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 14, article id 1150778Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The tongue is one of the organs most central to human speech. Here, the evolution and species-unique properties of the human tongue is traced, via reference to the apparent articulatory behavior of extant non-human great apes, and fossil findings from early hominids - from a point of view of articulatory phonetics, the science of human speech production. Increased lingual flexibility provided the possibility of mapping of articulatory targets, possibly via exaptation of manual-gestural mapping capacities evident in extant great apes. The emergence of the human-specific tongue, its properties, and morphology were crucial to the evolution of human articulate speech.

  • 8.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH. Lund University Cognitive Science, Lund, Sweden, Department of Psychology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Niehorster, D. C.
    Olsson, E. J.
    Self-imposed filter bubbles: Selective attention and exposure in online search2022In: Computers in Human Behavior Reports, ISSN 2451-9588, Vol. 7, article id 100226Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is commonly assumed that algorithmic curation of search results creates filter bubbles, where users’ beliefs are continually reinforced and opposing views are suppressed. However, empirical evidence has failed to support this hypothesis. Instead, it has been suggested that filter bubbles may result from individuals engaging selectively with information in search engine results pages. However, this “self-imposed filter bubble hypothesis” has remained empirically untested. In this study, we find support for the hypothesis using eye-tracking technology and link selection data. We presented partisan participants (n = 48) with sets of simulated Google Search results, controlling for the ideological leaning of each link. Participants spent more time viewing own-side links than other links (p = .037). In our sample, participants who identified as right-wing exhibited a greater such bias than those that identified as left wing (p < .001). In addition, we found that both liberals and conservatives tended to select own-side links (p < .001). Finally, there was a significant effect of trust, such that links associated with less trusted sources were attended less and selected less often by liberals and conservatives alike (p < .001). Our study challenges the efficacy of policies that aim at combatting filter bubbles by presenting users with an ideologically diverse set of search results. 

  • 9.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Nirme, Jens
    Lund Univ, Lund Univ Cognit Sci, Dept Philosophy, Lund, Sweden..
    Gardenfors, Peter
    Lund Univ, Lund Univ Cognit Sci, Dept Philosophy, Lund, Sweden.;Univ Johannesburg, Paleores Inst, Johannesburg, South Africa..
    Motion iconicity in prosody2022In: Frontiers in Communication, E-ISSN 2297-900X, Vol. 7, article id 994162Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Evidence suggests that human non-verbal speech may be rich in iconicity. Here, we report results from two experiments aimed at testing whether perception of increasing and declining f(0) can be iconically mapped onto motion events. We presented a sample of mixed-nationality participants (N = 118) with sets of two videos, where one pictured upward movement and the other downward movement. A disyllabic non-sense word prosodically resynthesized as increasing or declining in f(0) was presented simultaneously with each video in a pair, and participants were tasked with guessing which of the two videos the word described. Results indicate that prosody is iconically associated with motion, such that motion-prosody congruent pairings were more readily selected than incongruent pairings (p < 0.033). However, the effect observed in our sample was primarily driven by selections of words with declining f(0). A follow-up experiment with native Turkish speaking participants (N = 92) tested for the effect of language-specific metaphor for auditory pitch. Results showed no significant association between prosody and motion. Limitations of the experiment, and some implications for the motor theory of speech perception, and "gestural origins" theories of language evolution, are discussed.

  • 10.
    Feindt, Kathrin
    et al.
    ISFAS, Kiel University, Germany.
    Rossi, Martina
    ISFAS, Kiel University, Germany.
    Esfandiari-Baiat, Ghazaleh
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Ekström, Axel G.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Intelligent systems, Speech, Music and Hearing, TMH.
    Zellers, Margaret
    ISFAS, Kiel University, Germany.
    Cues to next-speaker projection in conversational Swedish: Evidence from reaction times2023In: Interspeech 2023, International Speech Communication Association , 2023, p. 1040-1044Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We present first results of a study investigating the salience and typicality of prosodic markers in Swedish at turn ends for turn-yielding and turn-keeping purposes. We performed an experiment where participants (N=32) were presented with conversational chunks and, after the audio ended, were asked to determine which of two speakers would speak next by clicking a picture on a screen. Audio stimuli were manipulated by (i) raising and (ii) lowering f0 over the last 500 ms of a turn, (iii) speeding up or (iv) slowing down duration over the last 500 ms, and (v) raising and (vi) lowering the last pitch peak. In our data, out of all manipulations, increasing the speech rate was found to be the most disruptive (p < .005). Higher speech rate led to longer reaction times in turn-keeping, which were shorter in turn-yielding. Other manipulations did not significantly alter reaction times. The results presented here may be complemented with eye movement data, to further elucidate cognitive mechanisms underlying turn-taking behavior.

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