Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but there is work by Diane-Kewley-Port and Dan Fogerty on intelligibility changes following masking of vowels versus masking of consonants. I think that Jont Allen also has some work on this, that reaches somewhat different conclusions than the Kewley-Port work.
Mitchell S. Sommers, PhD
Dept. of Psychology
Campus Box 1125
Saint Louis, MO 63130
I don't have a precise reference for you but it might be interesting for you to look through the publications of Valerie Hazan. Some of her work has investigated the perceptual consequences of switching out initial consonants. In considering vowel categories it may also be interesting to check out the article below and the recent book, 'Vowel inherent spectral change' (Eds Morrison & Assman).
You've probably heard it before, but be careful - studies in vowel perception are not for the feint-hearted.
All the best
Thyer NJ; Hickson LM; Dodd BJ (2000) The Perceptual Magnet Effect in Australian English Vowels. , (1).
Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics
University of Copenhagen
2300 København S
From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] on behalf of David Klein [kleinsound@xxxxxxxxx]