In face-to-face conversations, listeners gather visual speech information from a speaker's talking face that enhances their perception of the incoming auditory speech signal. This auditory–visual (AV) speech benefit is evident even in quiet environments but is stronger in situations that require greater listening effort such as when the speech signal itself deviates from listeners' expectations. One example is infant-directed speech (IDS) presented to adults. IDS has exaggerated acoustic properties that are easily discriminable from adult-directed speech (ADS). Although IDS is a speech register that adults typically use with infants, no previous neurophysiological study has directly examined whether adult listeners process IDS differently from ADS. To address this, the current study simultaneously recorded EEG and eye-tracking data from adult participants as they were presented with auditory-only (AO), visual-only, and AV recordings of IDS and ADS. Eye-tracking data were recorded because looking behavior to the speaker's eyes and mouth modulates the extent of AV speech benefit experienced. Analyses of cortical tracking accuracy revealed that cortical tracking of the speech envelope was significant in AO and AV modalities for IDS and ADS. However, the AV speech benefit [i.e., AV > (A + V)] was only present for IDS trials. Gaze behavior analyses indicated differences in looking behavior during IDS and ADS trials. Surprisingly, looking behavior to the speaker's eyes and mouth was not correlated with cortical tracking accuracy. Additional exploratory analyses indicated that attention to the whole display was negatively correlated with cortical tracking accuracy of AO and visual-only trials in IDS. Our results underscore the nuances involved in the relationship between neurophysiological AV speech benefit and looking behavior.

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