Volume 129, Issue 3, March 2011
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
129(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3543993View Description Hide Description
The perception of breathiness in vowels is cued by multiple acoustic cues, including changes in aspiration noise (AH) and the open quotient (OQ) [Klatt and Klatt, J. Acoust. Soc. Am.87(2), 820–857 (1990)]. A loudnessmodel can be used to determine the extent to which AH masks the harmonic components in voice. The resulting “partial loudness” (PL) and loudness of AH [“noise loudness” (NL)] have been shown to be good predictors of perceived breathiness [Shrivastav and Sapienza, J. Acoust. Soc. Am.114(1), 2217–2224 (2003)]. The levels of AH and OQ were systematically manipulated for ten synthetic vowels. Perceptual judgments of breathiness were obtained and regression functions to predict breathiness from the ratio of NL to PL (η) were derived. Results show that breathiness can be modeled as a power function of η. The power parameter of this function appears to be affected by the fundamental frequency of the vowel. A second experiment was conducted to determine if the resulting power function could estimate breathiness in a different set of voices. The breathiness of these stimuli, both natural and synthetic, was determined in a listening test. The model estimates of breathiness were highly correlated with perceptual data but the absolute predicted values showed some discrepancies.
Spatial release from masking in normally hearing and hearing-impaired listeners as a function of the temporal overlap of competing talkersa)129(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3533733View Description Hide Description
Listeners with sensorineural hearing loss are poorer than listeners with normal hearing at understanding one talker in the presence of another. This deficit is more pronounced when competing talkers are spatially separated, implying a reduced “spatial benefit” in hearing-impaired listeners. This study tested the hypothesis that this deficit is due to increased masking specifically during the simultaneous portions of competing speech signals. Monosyllabic words were compressed to a uniform duration and concatenated to create target and masker sentences with three levels of temporal overlap: 0% (non-overlapping in time), 50% (partially overlapping), or 100% (completely overlapping). Listeners with hearing loss performed particularly poorly in the 100% overlap condition, consistent with the idea that simultaneous speech sounds are most problematic for these listeners. However, spatial release from masking was reduced in all overlap conditions, suggesting that increased masking during periods of temporal overlap is only one factor limiting spatial unmasking in hearing-impaired listeners.