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Effect of temporal envelope smearing on speech reception.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Acoustic Stimulation, Adolescent, Adult, Humans, Noise, Speech Reception Threshold Test, Phonetics, Sound Spectrography, Speech Intelligibility, Speech Perception

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      Abstract

      The effect of smearing the temporal envelope on the speech-reception threshold (SRT) for sentences in noise and on phoneme identification was investigated for normal-hearing listeners. For this purpose, the speech signal was split up into a series of frequency bands (width of 1/4, 1/2, or 1 oct) and the amplitude envelope for each band was low-pass filtered at cutoff frequencies of 0, 1/2, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 Hz. Results for 36 subjects show (1) a severe reduction in sentence intelligibility for narrow processing bands at low cutoff frequencies (0-2 Hz); and (2) a marginal contribution of modulation frequencies above 16 Hz to the intelligibility of sentences (provided that lower modulation frequencies are completely present). For cutoff frequencies above 4 Hz, the SRT appears to be independent of the frequency bandwidth upon which envelope filtering takes place. Vowel and consonant identification with nonsense syllables were studied for cutoff frequencies of 0, 2, 4, 8, or 16 Hz in 1/4-oct bands. Results for 24 subjects indicate that consonants are more affected than vowels. Errors in vowel identification mainly consist of reduced recognition of diphthongs and of confusions between long and short vowels. In case of consonant recognition, stops appear to suffer most, with confusion patterns depending on the position in the syllable (initial, medial, or final).

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