Familiar Voices Are More Intelligible, Even if They Are Not Recognized as Familiar
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We can recognize familiar people by their voices, and familiar talkers are more intelligible than unfamiliar talkers when competing talkers are present. However, whether the acoustic voice characteristics that permit recognition and those that benefit intelligibility are the same or different is unknown. Here, we recruited pairs of participants who had known each other for 6 months or longer and manipulated the acoustic correlates of two voice characteristics (vocal tract length and glottal pulse rate). These had different effects on explicit recognition of and the speech-intelligibility benefit realized from familiar voices. Furthermore, even when explicit recognition of familiar voices was eliminated, they were still more intelligible than unfamiliar voices—demonstrating that familiar voices do not need to be explicitly recognized to benefit intelligibility. Processing familiar-voice information appears therefore to depend on multiple, at least partially independent, systems that are recruited depending on the perceptual goal of the listener.