Spectral Tilt Change in Stop Consonant Perception by Listeners With Hearing Impairment Purpose To evaluate how perceptual importance of spectral tilt is altered when formant information is degraded by sensorineural hearing loss. Method Eighteen listeners with mild to moderate hearing impairment (HI listeners) and 20–23 listeners with normal hearing (NH listeners) identified synthesized stimuli that varied in second formant (F2) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2009
Spectral Tilt Change in Stop Consonant Perception by Listeners With Hearing Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joshua M. Alexander
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Keith R. Kluender
    University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Contact author: Joshua M. Alexander, who is now at Boys Town National Research Hospital, 555 North 30th Street, Omaha, NE 68131. E-mail: alexanderj@boystown.org.
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2009
Spectral Tilt Change in Stop Consonant Perception by Listeners With Hearing Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 653-670. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/08-0038)
History: Received February 14, 2008 , Accepted September 11, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 653-670. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/08-0038)
History: Received February 14, 2008; Accepted September 11, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose To evaluate how perceptual importance of spectral tilt is altered when formant information is degraded by sensorineural hearing loss.

Method Eighteen listeners with mild to moderate hearing impairment (HI listeners) and 20–23 listeners with normal hearing (NH listeners) identified synthesized stimuli that varied in second formant (F2) frequency and spectral tilt. Experiments 1 and 2 examined utterance-initial stops (/ba/ and /da/), and Experiments 3 and 4 examined medial stops (/aba/ and /ada/). Spectral tilt was manipulated at either consonant onset (Experiments 1 and 3), vowels (Experiments 2 and 4), or both (Experiment 5).

Results Regression analyses revealed that HI listeners weighted F2 substantially less than NH listeners. There was no difference in absolute tilt weights between groups. However, HI listeners emphasized tilt as much as F2 for medial stops. NH listeners weighted tilt primarily when F2 was ambiguous, whereas HI listeners weighted tilt significantly more than NH listeners on unambiguous F2 endpoints.

Conclusions Attenuating changes in spectral tilt can be as deleterious as taking away F2 information for HI listeners. Recordings through a wide dynamic range compression hearing aid show compromised changes in spectral tilt, compressed in range by up to 50%.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a grant to the first author from The National Organization for Hearing Research Foundation (2006 Graymer Foundation Grant in Auditory Science) and a grant to the second author from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Grant R01DC04072. This article was written while supported by NIDCD Grant T32 DC000013 (Boys Town National Research Hospital).
The authors thank Christian Stilp, Mark Hedrick, and Marjorie Leek for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. The authors also thank Amanda Baum, Rebecca Edds, Tricia Nechodom, and Rebecca (“Hallie”) Strauss for their efforts during the data collection process. We also thank Patricia Stelmachowicz for access to the hearing aid and equipment used to make the recordings shown in Figure 14.
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