Volume 117, Issue 1, January 2005
Index of content:
- PSYCHOLOGICAL ACOUSTICS 
Across-ear interference from parametrically degraded synthetic speech signals in a dichotic cocktail-party listening task117(2005); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1835509View Description Hide Description
Recent results have shown that listeners attending to the quieter of two speech signals in one ear (the target ear) are highly susceptible to interference from normal or time-reversed speech signals presented in the unattended ear. However, speech-shaped noise signals have little impact on the segregation of speech in the opposite ear. This suggests that there is a fundamental difference between the across-ear interference effects of speech and nonspeech signals. In this experiment, the intelligibility and contralateral-ear masking characteristics of three synthetic speech signals with parametrically adjustable speech-like properties were examined: (1) a modulated noise-band (MNB) speech signal composed of fixed-frequency bands of envelope-modulated noise; (2) a modulated sine-band (MSB) speech signal composed of fixed-frequency amplitude-modulated sinewaves; and (3) a “sinewave speech” signal composed of sine waves tracking the first four formants of speech. In all three cases, a systematic decrease in performance in the two-talker target-ear listening task was found as the number of bands in the contralateral speech-like masker increased. These results suggest that speech-like fluctuations in the spectral envelope of a signal play an important role in determining the amount of across-ear interference that a signal will produce in a dichotic cocktail-party listening task.
117(2005); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1828637View Description Hide Description
There is information in speech sounds about the length of the vocal tract; specifically, as a child grows, the resonators in the vocal tract grow and the formant frequencies of the vowels decrease. It has been hypothesized that the auditory system applies a scale transform to all sounds to segregate size information from resonator shape information, and thereby enhance both size perception and speech recognition [Irino and Patterson, Speech Commun. 36, 181–203 (2002)]. This paper describes size discrimination experiments and vowel recognition experiments designed to provide evidence for an auditory scaling mechanism. Vowels were scaled to represent people with vocal tracts much longer and shorter than normal, and with pitches much higher and lower than normal. The results of the discrimination experiments show that listeners can make fine judgments about the relative size of speakers, and they can do so for vowels scaled well beyond the normal range. Similarly, the recognition experiments show good performance for vowels in the normal range, and for vowels scaled well beyond the normal range of experience. Together, the experiments support the hypothesis that the auditory system automatically normalizes for the size information in communication sounds.
Perceptual differences between low and high rates of stimulation on single electrodes for cochlear implantees117(2005); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1830672View Description Hide Description
Previous research has shown that increases in the rate of stimulation on a single electrode yield changes in pitch perception until the rate is increased beyond a given critical rate, after which changes in rate are only perceived as changes in loudness. The critical rate beyond which a rate increase no longer elicits a pitch change in most subjects is approximately 300 Hz, although a small number of subjects have been observed to have critical rates up to approximately 1000 Hz. In this article, we sought to determine if increasing the rate of stimulation beyond the critical rate (up to 12.8 kHz) would eventually result in new changes of perception (other than loudness.) Our data replicate the previously observed results that rates between approximately 300 and 1500 Hz are indistinguishable from each other. However, we observed the finding that a rate of stimulation well above the critical rate (starting between 1500 Hz and 12.8 kHz, depending on electrode and subject) can elicit changes in perception. The perceptual differences between these high rates were sometimes but not always labeled as pitch changes. This phenomenon needs further research to assess its potential relevance to speech perception using high rates of stimulation.