Talker Separation and Sequential Stream Segregation in Listeners With Hearing Loss: Patterns Associated With Talker Gender

Mackersie, Carol L.
August 2003
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2003, Vol. 46 Issue 4, p912
Academic Journal
The purpose of this paper was to examine the relations between the ability to separate simultaneous sentences spoken by talkers of different gender and the ability to separate pitch patterns in a sequential stream segregation task. Simultaneous sentence pairs consisting of 1 sentence spoken by a male talker and 1 sentence spoken by a female talker were presented to 11 listeners with sensorineural hearing loss. Listeners were asked to repeat both sentences and were scored on the number of words repeated correctly. Separate scores were obtained for the male and female sentences. Sequential stream segregation was then measured using series of tones consisting of a fixed frequency (A) and a varying frequency tone (B). Tone series were presented in an ABA&_ABA&_... pattern starting at a varying frequency either below (ascending pattern) or above (descending pattern) the frequency of the fixed 1000 Hz tone. Fusion thresholds, defined as the frequency separation at which listeners could no longer perceptually separate the tones A and B, were obtained for both ascending and descending patterns. There was no significant difference between ascending and descending fusion thresholds based on the group data, but substantial individual differences were observed. Speech recognition scores for the male talker were strongly related to ascending fusion thresholds, but not descending thresholds. In contrast, speech recognition scores for the female talker were strongly related to the descending thresholds, but not the ascending thresholds. For both the male and female talkers, better recognition scores were associated with lower (nearer to normal) fusion thresholds. Results suggest that the importance of streaming in the perceptual separation of talkers may depend on the nature of the information provided by the changing pitch stream.


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