On the Structure of Phoneme Categories in Listeners With Cochlear Implants

Lane, Harlan; Denny, Margaret; Guenther, Frank H.; Hanson, Helen M.; Marrone, Nicole; Matthies, Melanie L.; Perkell, Joseph S.; Stockmann, Ellen; Tiede, Mark; Vick, Jennell; Zandipour, Majid
February 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2007, Vol. 50 Issue 1, p2
Academic Journal
Purpose: To describe cochlear implant users' phoneme labeling, discrimination, and prototypes for a vowel and a sibilant contrast, and to assess the effects of 1 year's experience with prosthetic hearing. Method: Based on naturally produced clear examples of "boot," "beet," "said," and "shed" by 1 male and 1 female speaker, continua with 13 stimuli were synthesized for each contrast. Seven hearing controls labeled those stimuli and assigned them goodness ratings, as did 7 implant users at 1-month postimplant. One year later, these measures were repeated, and within category discrimination, d', was assessed. Results: Compared with controls, implant users' vowel and sibilant labeling slopes were substantially shallower but improved over 1 year of prosthesis use. Their sensitivity to phonetic differences within phoneme categories was about half that of controls. The slopes of their goodness rating functions were shallower and did not improve. Their prototypes for the sibilant contrast (but not the vowels) were closer to one another and did not improve by moving apart. Conclusions: Implant users' phoneme labeling and within-category perceptual structure were anomalous at 1-month postimplant. After 1 year of prosthesis use, phoneme labeling categories had sharpened but within category discrimination was well below that of hearing controls.


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