Volume 130, Issue 5, November 2011
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
The interpretation of speech reception threshold data in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners: Steady-state noise130(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3644909View Description Hide Description
Speech-in-noise-measurements are important in clinical practice and have been the subject of research for a long time. The results of these measurements are often described in terms of the speech reception threshold(SRT) and SNR loss. Using the basic concepts that underlie several models of speech recognition in steady-state noise, the present study shows that these measures are ill-defined, most importantly because the slope of the speech recognition functions for hearing-impaired listeners always decreases with hearing loss. This slope can be determined from the slope of the normal-hearing speech recognition function when the SRT for the hearing-impaired listener is known. The SII-function (i.e., the speech intelligibility index (SII) against SNR) is important and provides insights into many potential pitfalls when interpreting SRT data. Standardized SNR loss, sSNR loss, is introduced as a universal measure of hearing loss for speech in steady-state noise. Experimental data demonstrates that, unlike the SRT or SNR loss, sSNR loss is invariant to the target point chosen, the scoring method or the type of speech material.
Prediction of the influence of reverberation on binaural speech intelligibility in noise and in quieta)130(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3641368View Description Hide Description
Reverberation usually degrades speech intelligibility for spatially separated speech and noise sources since spatial unmasking is reduced and late reflections decrease the fidelity of the received speech signal. The latter effect could not satisfactorily be predicted by a recently presented binauralspeech intelligibilitymodel [Beutelmann et al. (2010). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 127, 2479–2497]. This study therefore evaluated three extensions of the model to improve its predictions: (1) an extension of the speech intelligibility index based on modulation transfer functions, (2) a correction factor based on the room acoustical quantity “definition,” and (3) a separation of the speech signal into useful and detrimental parts. The predictions were compared to results of two experiments in which speech reception thresholds were measured in a reverberant room in quiet and in the presence of a noise source for listeners with normal hearing. All extensions yielded better predictions than the original model when the influence of reverberation was strong, while predictions were similar for conditions with less reverberation. Although model (3) differed substantially in the assumed interaction of binaural processing and early reflections, its predictions were very similar to model (2) that achieved the best fit to the data.
An evaluation of objective measures for intelligibility prediction of time-frequency weighted noisy speech130(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3641373View Description Hide Description
Existing objective speech-intelligibility measures are suitable for several types of degradation, however, it turns out that they are less appropriate in cases where noisy speech is processed by a time-frequency weighting. To this end, an extensive evaluation is presented of objective measure for intelligibility prediction of noisy speech processed with a technique called ideal time frequency (TF) segregation. In total 17 measures are evaluated, including four advanced speech-intelligibility measures (CSII, CSTI, NSEC, DAU), the advanced speech-quality measure (PESQ), and several frame-based measures (e.g., SSNR). Furthermore, several additional measures are proposed. The study comprised a total number of 168 different TF-weightings, including unprocessed noisy speech. Out of all measures, the proposed frame-based measure MCC gave the best results (ρ = 0.93). An additional experiment shows that the good performing measures in this study also show high correlation with the intelligibility of single-channel noise reduced speech.
The effects of selective consonant amplification on sentence recognition in noise by hearing-impaired listeners130(2011); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.3641407View Description Hide Description
Weak consonants (e.g., stops) are more susceptible to noise than vowels, owing partially to their lower intensity. This raises the question whether hearing-impaired (HI) listeners are able to perceive (and utilize effectively) the high-frequency cues present in consonants. To answer this question, HI listeners were presented with clean (noise absent) weak consonants in otherwise noise-corrupted sentences. Results indicated that HI listeners received significant benefit in intelligibility (4 dB decrease in speech reception threshold) when they had access to clean consonant information. At extremely low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) levels, however, HI listeners received only 64% of the benefit obtained by normal-hearing listeners. This lack of equitable benefit was investigated in Experiment 2 by testing the hypothesis that the high-frequency cues present in consonants were not audible to HI listeners. This was tested by selectively amplifying the noisy consonants while leaving the noisy sonorant sounds (e.g., vowels) unaltered. Listening tests indicated small (∼10%), but statistically significant, improvements in intelligibility at low SNR conditions when the consonants were amplified in the high-frequency region. Selective consonant amplification provided reliable low-frequency acoustic landmarks that in turn facilitated a better lexical segmentation of the speech stream and contributed to the small improvement in intelligibility.