The pitch hunt: The role of voice pitch in top-down repair of interrupted speech

Clarke, J. N., 2017, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 190 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)Academic

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  • Jeanne Nora Clarke
For a normal hearing person, understanding speech from a single talker is effortless in quiet surrounding. It becomes more challenging when the talker is surrounded by a loud crowd or other kind of noise. Individuals with hearing impairment might already experience problems in understanding speech in quiet, and it may become even more challenging in noise. In the present dissertation, I investigated how characteristics of the voice of a talker contribute to understanding speech in difficult listening situation. For this, I presented sentences, which were either interrupted with silent gaps, or with noise filling in the gaps, making speech perception more challenging. I further manipulated the vocal characteristics of these sentences, allowing me to test for effects of vocal characteristic manipulation in challenging listening scenarios. The participants had to employ cognitive strategies to perceptually restore the parts of the sentences that were replaced with either silence or noise. I found that interrupted speech can be successfully restored even for some voice manipulations, when linguistic context prevails over these manipulations. The results help to establish the importance of pitch for interrupted-speech perception as well as for triggering the cognitive restoration mechanisms, especially when the input sounds are degraded, as in hearing-impairment. However, interestingly, speech perception improvement that was expected to occur with access to pitch cues was not captured at the group level for actual hearing-impaired individuals, although they perceived better sound quality. These findings contribute to assessing how to improve speech perception in noise for hearing-impaired individuals.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date16-Jan-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-9486-2
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9485-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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