Childrens’ Phoneme Identification in Reverberation and Noise This study assessed the effects of reverberation, noise, and their combination on listeners’ identification of consonants and vowels in naturally produced nonsense syllables presented at different sensation levels (re: speech recognition threshold). A secondary purpose of this study was to assess listeners’ identification of voicing, manner, and place of articulation ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2000
Childrens’ Phoneme Identification in Reverberation and Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carole E. Johnson
    Auburn University Auburn, AL
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: johns19@mail.Auburn.edu
  • Contact author: Carole E. Johnson, PhD, Department of Communication Disorders, 1199 Haley Center, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5232. Email: johns19@mail.Auburn.edu
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2000
Childrens’ Phoneme Identification in Reverberation and Noise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 144-157. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.144
History: Received March 20, 1998 , Accepted June 2, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 144-157. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.144
History: Received March 20, 1998; Accepted June 2, 1999

This study assessed the effects of reverberation, noise, and their combination on listeners’ identification of consonants and vowels in naturally produced nonsense syllables presented at different sensation levels (re: speech recognition threshold). A secondary purpose of this study was to assess listeners’ identification of voicing, manner, and place of articulation for consonants at 50 dB SL in the reverberation, noise, and combined conditions. Listeners, aged 6–30 years, identified consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel (CVCV) stimuli presented at four different sensation levels (re: speech recognition threshold) of 30, 40, 50, and 60 dB SL in 4 listening conditions: (a) an optimal listening situation (no reverberation, no noise), (b) reverberation only (1.3 seconds), (c) noise only (+13 dB S/N against a multitalker babble), and (d) reverberation plus noise. Results showed that all listener groups achieved maximum consonant identification performance at 50 dB SL. Vowel identification scores were unaffected by SL. Statistical analyses revealed that childrens’ ability to identify consonants varied according to listening condition. For example, childrens’ consonant identification abilities reached adult-like levels of performance at about age 14 years in the reverberation-only and noise-only listening conditions. However, in the reverberation-plus-noise listening condition, childrens’ consonant identification abilities do not mature until the late teenage years. The ability to identify vowels, on the other hand, develops much earlier. A feature analysis of the consonant data showed that for all 3 features (voicing, manner, and place), identification scores were highest in the control condition, similar for the reverberation-only and noise-only conditions, and lowest in the reverberation-plus-noise condition. Voicing was easier for listeners to identify than manner or place of articulation features in reverberation and noise. Taken together, these results suggest that the ability to identify speech in reverberation and noise reaches adult-like level of performance at different ages for different components of the speech signal.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported (in part) by Research Grant 5 R03 DC 01978–2 awarded to the author from the National Institutes of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health. The author also wishes to thank Sandra Gordon-Salant, Chris Turner, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript.
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