Temporal Intraspeech Masking of Plosive Bursts: Effects of Hearing Loss and Frequency Shaping

Mackersie, Carol L.
June 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2007, Vol. 50 Issue 3, p554
Academic Journal
Purpose: The purposes were (a) to compare masking of consonant bursts by adjacent vowels for listeners with and without hearing loss and (b) to determine the extent to which the temporal intraspeech masking can be reduced by a simulated hearing-aid frequency-response shaping. Method: Fourteen adults with sensorineural hearing loss and 10 with normal hearing participated. Seven of the participants with hearing loss had flat or gradually sloping audiograms, and 7 had steeply sloping losses. Stimuli consisted of 3 consonant bursts (/t/, /p/, /k/) presented in isolation and in vowel-consonant-vowel combinations using the vowel /a/ with formant transition information removed. Normal-hearing listeners were tested using unfiltered stimuli. Listeners with hearing loss were tested using unfiltered stimuli and stimuli filtered to approximate a hearing aid frequency response prescribed by NAL-R. All listeners were tested under earphones at the most comfortable level for the vowel stimulus. Temporal intraspeech masking was quantified as the threshold shift produced by the adjacent vowels. Results: Average intraspeech masking for listeners with steeply sloping hearing loss was significantly higher than that of normal-hearing listeners and those with flat/gradually sloping losses. Greater intraspeech masking was observed for /t/ and /p/ than for /k/. On average, frequency shaping significantly reduced the amount of intraspeech masking for listeners with steeply sloping hearing losses. Even with appropriate amplification/spectral shaping, however, temporal intraspeech masking remained greater than normal for several individuals. Conclusion: Findings suggest that some individuals with steeply sloping losses may need additional signal processing to supplement frequency shaping to overcome the effect of temporal intraspeech masking.


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