Volume 129, Issue 1, January 2011
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
129(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3523295View Description Hide Description
Listening to speech in competing sounds poses a major difficulty for children with impaired hearing. This study aimed to determine the ability of children (3–12 yr of age) to use spatial separation between target speech and competing babble to improve speech intelligibility. Fifty-eight children (31 with normal hearing and 27 with impaired hearing who use bilateral hearing aids) were assessed by word and sentence material.Speech reception thresholds(SRTs) were measured with speech presented from 0° azimuth, and competing babble from either 0° or ±90° azimuth. Spatial release from masking (SRM) was defined as the difference between SRTsmeasured with co-located speech and babble and SRTsmeasured with spatially separated speech and babble. On average, hearing-impaired children attained near-normal performance when speech and babble originated from the frontal source, but performed poorer than their normal-hearing peers when babble was spatially separated from target speech. On average, normal-hearing children obtained an SRM of 3 dB whereas children with hearing loss did not demonstrate SRM. Results suggest that hearing-impaired children may need enhancement in signal-to-noise ratio to hear speech in difficult listening conditions as well as normal-hearing children.
129(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3500688View Description Hide Description
This paper investigated how foreign-accented stress cues affect on-line speech comprehension in British speakers of English. While unstressed English vowels are usually reduced to /ə/, Dutch speakers of English only slightly centralize them. Speakers of both languages differentiate stress by suprasegmentals (duration and intensity). In a cross-modal priming experiment, English listeners heard sentences ending in monosyllabic prime fragments—produced by either an English or a Dutch speaker of English—and performed lexical decisions on visual targets. Primes were either stress-matching (“ab” excised from absurd), stress-mismatching (“ab” from absence), or unrelated (“pro” from profound) with respect to the target (e.g., ABSURD). Results showed a priming effect for stress-matching primes only when produced by the English speaker, suggesting that vowel quality is a more important cue to word stress than suprasegmental information. Furthermore, for visual targets with word-initial secondary stress that do not require vowel reduction (e.g., CAMPAIGN), resembling the Dutch way of realizing stress, there was a priming effect for both speakers. Hence, our data suggest that Dutch-accented English is not harder to understand in general, but it is in instances where the language-specific implementation of lexical stress differs across languages.