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ABSTRACT: In general, children perform more poorly in speech intelligibility tasks than adults while in a noisy environment such as a classroom. This is especially true in discussion situations where the active talkers often are located to the side or behind the student. The purpose of this study was to obtain baseline data for normal hearing (NH) students who experienced multiple-talker stimuli in a controlled virtual classroom environment. Data were gathered using a gyroscopic head-tracker and a post-story comprehension task. Twenty elementary-aged students (ages 8-12, four students per year) were positioned in the center of the classroom and presented a story read by five talkers positioned around the student (reproduced by means of loudspeakers and LCD monitors). Students used different strategies in terms of head rotation over time while performing the experiment and individual differences were seen both across subjects within an age group and between age groups. The post-test comprehension task was used as a metric of performance in the environment. Results from the NH students are compared to a control group of adult NH listeners using head rotation angle over time, comprehension scores, and localization accuracy as salient metrics.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 03/2010; 127(3):1822. DOI:10.1121/1.3384219