Influence of Voice Similarity on Talker Discrimination in Children With Normal Hearing and Children With Cochlear Implants

Cleary, Miranda; Pisoni, David B.; Kirk, Karen Iler
February 2005
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2005, Vol. 48 Issue 1, p204
Academic Journal
The perception of voice similarity was examined in 5-year-old children with normal hearing sensitivity and in pediatric cochlear implant users, 5-12 years of age. Recorded sentences were manipulated to form a continuum of similar-sounding voices. An adaptive procedure was then used to determine how acoustically different, in terms of average fundamental and formant frequencies, 2 sentences needed to be for a child to categorize the sentences as spoken by 2 different talkers. The average spectral characteristics of 2 utterances (including their fundamental frequencies) needed to differ by at least 11%-16% (2-2.5 semitones) for normal-hearing children to perceive the voices as belonging to different talkers. Introducing differences in the linguistic content of the 2 sentences to be compared did not change performance. Although several children with cochlear implants performed similarly to normal-hearing children, most found the task very difficult. Pediatric cochlear implant users who scored above the group mean of 64% of words correct on a monosyllabic open-set word identification task categorized the voices more like children with normal hearing sensitivity.


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