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Description: The notion of the ‘perceptual center’ or the ‘P-center’ has been put forward to account for the repeated finding that acoustic and perceived syllable onsets do not necessarily coincide, at least in the perception of simple mono- or disyllables. The magnitude of the discrepancy between acoustics and perception - the location of the P-center in the speech signal - has proven difficult to estimate, though acoustic models of the effect do exist. The present study asked if the P-center effect could be documented in natural connected speech of English and Japanese and examined if an acoustic model that defined the P-center as the moment of the fastest energy change in a syllabic amplitude envelope adequately reflected the P-center in the two languages. A sensorimotor synchronization paradigm was deployed to address the research questions. The results provided evidence for the existence of the P-center effect in speech of both languages while the applicability of the acoustic P-center model was found to be limited to English. Sensorimotor synchronization patterns further suggest that the P-center may reflect perceptual anticipation of a vowel onset.


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