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    ABSTRACT: This study used a multi-talker database containing intelligibility scores for 2000 sentences (20 talkers, 100 sentences), to identify talker-related correlates of speech intelligibility. We first investigated "global" talker characteristics (e.g., gender, F0 and speaking rate). Findings showed female talkers to be more intelligible as a group than male talkers. Additionally, we found a tendency for F0 range to correlate positively with higher speech intelligibility scores. However, F0 mean and speaking rate did not correlate with intelligibility. We then examined several fine-grained acoustic-phonetic talker-characteristics as correlates of overall intelligibility. We found that talkers with larger vowel spaces were generally more intelligible than talkers with reduced spaces. In investigating two cases of consistent listener errors (segment deletion and syllable affiliation), we found that these perceptual errors could be traced directly to detailed timing characteristics in the speech signal. Results suggest that a substantial portion of variability in normal speech intelligibility is traceable to specific acoustic-phonetic characteristics of the talker. Knowledge about these factors may be valuable for improving speech synthesis and recognition strategies, and for special populations (e.g., the hearing-impaired and second-language learners) who are particularly sensitive to intelligibility differences among talkers.
    Speech Communication 12/1996; 20(3):255-272. · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The acceptance of cochlear implantation as an effective and safe treatment for deafness has increased steadily over the past quarter century. The earliest devices were the first implanted prostheses found to be successful in compensating partially for lost sensory function by direct electrical stimulation of nerves. Initially, the main intention was to provide limited auditory sensations to people with profound or total sensorineural hearing impairment in both ears. Although the first cochlear implants aimed to provide patients with little more than awareness of environmental sounds and some cues to assist visual speech-reading, the technology has advanced rapidly. Currently, most people with modern cochlear implant systems can understand speech using the device alone, at least in favorable listening conditions. In recent years, an increasing research effort has been directed towards implant users' perception of nonspeech sounds, especially music. This paper reviews that research, discusses the published experimental results in terms of both psychophysical observations and device function, and concludes with some practical suggestions about how perception of music might be enhanced for implant recipients in the future. The most significant findings of past research are: (1) On average, implant users perceive rhythm about as well as listeners with normal hearing; (2) Even with technically sophisticated multiple-channel sound processors, recognition of melodies, especially without rhythmic or verbal cues, is poor, with performance at little better than chance levels for many implant users; (3) Perception of timbre, which is usually evaluated by experimental procedures that require subjects to identify musical instrument sounds, is generally unsatisfactory; (4) Implant users tend to rate the quality of musical sounds as less pleasant than listeners with normal hearing; (5) Auditory training programs that have been devised specifically to provide implant users with structured musical listening experience may improve the subjective acceptability of music that is heard through a prosthesis; (6) Pitch perception might be improved by designing innovative sound processors that use both temporal and spatial patterns of electric stimulation more effectively and precisely to overcome the inherent limitations of signal coding in existing implant systems; (7) For the growing population of implant recipients who have usable acoustic hearing, at least for low-frequency sounds, perception of music is likely to be much better with combined acoustic and electric stimulation than is typical for deaf people who rely solely on the hearing provided by their prostheses.
    Trends in Amplification 02/2004; 8(2):49-82. · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In order to learn how listeners evaluate F0 excursions, a set of experiments was performed in which subjects had to estimate the liveliness of utterances. The stimuli were obtained by LPC analysis of one natural utterance that was modified by resynthesizing F0, the formant frequencies, and the time scale in order to simulate some of the natural extra- and paralinguistic variations that affect F0 and/or liveliness, namely the speaker's age, sex, articulation rate, and voice register. In each case, the extent of the F0 excursions was varied in seven steps. The results showed that, as long as the stimuli appeared to have been produced in the modal register (of men, women, and children), listeners judged F0 intervals to be equivalent if they were equal in semitones. When the voice register was shifted without adjustment in articulation, listeners appeared to judge the F0 excursions in relation to the spectral space available below F1. The liveliness ratings were found to be strongly dependent on articulation rate and to be affected by the perceived age of the speaker which, with the manipulated stimuli used here, turned out to be significantly affected by the sex of the listener.
    The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 04/1995; 97(3):1905-15. · 1.65 Impact Factor

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