Speech recognition in fluctuating and continuous maskers: effects of hearing loss and presentation level.
ABSTRACT Listeners with normal-hearing sensitivity recognize speech more accurately in the presence of fluctuating background sounds, such as a single competing voice, than in unmodulated noise at the same overall level. These performance differences are greatly reduced in listeners with hearing impairment, who generally receive little benefit from fluctuations in masker envelopes. If this lack of benefit is entirely due to elevated quiet thresholds and the resulting inaudibility of low-amplitude portions of signal + masker, then listeners with hearing impairment should derive increasing benefit from masker fluctuations as presentation levels increase. Listeners with normal-hearing (NH) sensitivity and listeners with hearing impairment (HI) were tested for sentence recognition at moderate and high presentation levels in competing speech-shaped noise, in competing speech by a single talker, and in competing time-reversed speech by the same talker. NH listeners showed more accurate recognition at moderate than at high presentation levels and better performance in fluctuating maskers than in unmodulated noise. For these listeners, modulated versus unmodulated performance differences tended to decrease at high presentation levels. Listeners with HI, as a group, showed performance that was more similar across maskers and presentation levels. Considered individually, only 2 out of 6 listeners with HI showed better overall performance and increasing benefit from masker fluctuations as presentation level increased. These results suggest that audibility alone does not completely account for the group differences in performance with fluctuating maskers; suprathreshold processing differences between groups also appear to play an important role. Competing speech frequently provided more effective masking than time-reversed speech containing temporal fluctuations of equal magnitude. This finding is consistent with "informational" masking resulting from competitive processing of words and phrases within the speech masker that would notoccur for time-reversed sentences.
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ABSTRACT: In this research, we explored the effect of noise interruption rate on speech intelligibility. Specifically, we used the Hearing In Noise Test (HINT) procedure with the original HINT stimuli (English) and Igbo stimuli to assess speech reception ability in interrupted noise. For a given noise level, the HINT test provides an estimate of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) required for 50%-correct speech intelligibility. The SNR for 50%-correct intelligibility changes depending upon the interruption rate of the noise. This phenomenon (called Masking Release) has been studied extensively in English but not for Igbo - which is an African tonal language spoken predominantly in South Eastern Nigeria. This experiment explored and compared the phenomenon of Masking Release for (i) native English speakers listening to English, (ii) native Igbo speakers listening to English, and (iii) native Igbo speakers listening to Igbo. Since Igbo is a tonal language and English is a non-tonal language, this allowed us to compare Masking Release patterns on native speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages. Our results for native English speakers listening to English HINT show that the SNR and the masking release are orderly and consistent with other English HINT data for English speakers. Our result for Igbo speakers listening to English HINT sentences show that there is greater variability in results across the different Igbo listeners than across the English listeners. This result likely reflects different levels of ability in the English language across the Igbo listeners. The masking release values in dB are less than for English listeners. Our results for Igbo speakers listening to Igbo show that in general, the SNRs for Igbo sentences are lower than for English/English and Igbo/English. This means that the Igbo listeners could understand 50% of the Igbo sentences at SNRs less than those required for English sentences by either native or non-native listeners. This result can be explained by the fact that the perception of Igbo utterances by Igbo subjects may have been aided by the prediction of tonal and vowel harmony features existent in the Igbo language. In agreement with other studies, our results also show that in a noisy environment listeners are able to perceive their native language better than a second language. The ability of native language speakers to perceive their language better than a second language in a noisy environment may be attributed to the fact that: Native speakers are more familiar with the sounds of their language than second language speakers.One of the features of language is that it is predictable hence even in noise a native speaker may be able to predict a succeeding word that is scarcely audible. These contextual effects are facilitated by familiarity.African journal of computing and ICT. 09/2013; 6(3):119-126.
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ABSTRACT: OBJETIVO: Este estudo investigou o efeito das diferentes taxas de modulações do mascaramento na magnitude do masking release. MÉTODOS: Quinze indivíduos jovens, com audição normal, foram submetidos ao teste de reconhecimento de sentença na presença de ruído, utilizando as listas de sentenças do HINT-Brasil. Foram obtidos limiares de reconhecimento de fala em presença de ruído estável e ruído modulado, em diferentes taxas de modulação (4, 8, 16, 32 e 64 Hz). A magnitude do masking release foi obtida para cada modulação e foi realizada a análise comparativa dos resultados. RESULTADOS: Os achados demonstraram melhores limiares de reconhecimento de sentenças quando o ruído mascarante foi modulado em 4, 8, 16 e 32 Hz e piores limiares quando o ruído mascarante estava estável e em 64 Hz. No que diz respeito à análise da relação sinal/ruído, foram observados, no presente estudo, maiores valores para as tarefas que envolvem reconhecimento de sentenças com ruído estável, seguidos das tarefas que envolvem reconhecimento de sentenças com ruído modulado em 64 Hz, e menores valores para as tarefas que envolvem reconhecimento de sentenças com ruído modulado em 32, 16, 8 e 4 Hz, respectivamente. CONCLUSÃO: A magnitude do masking release para sentenças não se diferencia com taxas de modulação em amplitude entre 4 e 32 Hz. No entanto, quando a taxa de modulação é elevada a 64 Hz, a magnitude do masking release diminui.Audiology - Communication Research. 12/2013; 18(4):238-244.
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ABSTRACT: Hearing-impaired (HI) listeners often show less masking release (MR) than normal-hearing listeners when temporal fluctuations are imposed on a steady-state masker, even when accounting for overall audibility differences. This difference may be related to a loss of cochlear compression in HI listeners. Behavioral estimates of compression, using temporal masking curves (TMCs), were compared with MR for band-limited (500-4000 Hz) speech and pure tones in HI listeners and age-matched, noise-masked normal-hearing (NMNH) listeners. Compression and pure-tone MR estimates were made at 500, 1500, and 4000 Hz. The amount of MR was defined as the difference in performance between steady-state and 10-Hz square-wave-gated speech-shaped noise. In addition, temporal resolution was estimated from the slope of the off-frequency TMC. No significant relationship was found between estimated cochlear compression and MR for either speech or pure tones. NMNH listeners had significantly steeper off-frequency temporal masking recovery slopes than did HI listeners, and a small but significant correlation was observed between poorer temporal resolution and reduced MR for speech. The results suggest either that the effects of hearing impairment on MR are not determined primarily by changes in peripheral compression, or that the TMC does not provide a sufficiently reliable measure of cochlear compression.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 10/2013; 134(4):2895-2912. · 1.65 Impact Factor