Selective Auditory Attention in Adults: Effects of Rhythmic Structure of the Competing Language PurposeThe authors assessed adult selective auditory attention to determine effects of (a) differences between the vocal/speaking characteristics of different mixed-gender pairs of masking talkers and (b) the rhythmic structure of the language of the competing speech.MethodReception thresholds for English sentences were measured for 50 monolingual English-speaking adults in conditions with ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2012
Selective Auditory Attention in Adults: Effects of Rhythmic Structure of the Competing Language
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Leigh Ann Reel
    Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX
  • Candace Bourland Hicks
    Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX
  • Correspondence to Leigh Ann Reel: leigh.reel@ttuhsc.edu
  • Editor: Robert Schlauch
    Editor: Robert Schlauch×
  • Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek
    Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   February 01, 2012
Selective Auditory Attention in Adults: Effects of Rhythmic Structure of the Competing Language
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 89-104. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0193)
History: Received July 12, 2010 , Revised January 14, 2011 , Accepted May 6, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 89-104. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0193)
History: Received July 12, 2010; Revised January 14, 2011; Accepted May 6, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5

PurposeThe authors assessed adult selective auditory attention to determine effects of (a) differences between the vocal/speaking characteristics of different mixed-gender pairs of masking talkers and (b) the rhythmic structure of the language of the competing speech.

MethodReception thresholds for English sentences were measured for 50 monolingual English-speaking adults in conditions with 2-talker (male–female) competing speech spoken in a stress-based (English, German), syllable-based (Spanish, French), or mora-based (Japanese) language. Two different masking signals were created for each language (i.e., 2 different 2-talker pairs). All subjects were tested in 10 competing conditions (2 conditions for each of the 5 languages).

ResultsA significant difference was noted between the 2 masking signals within each language. Across languages, significantly greater listening difficulty was observed in conditions where competing speech was spoken in English, German, or Japanese, as compared with Spanish or French.

ConclusionsResults suggest that (a) for a particular language, masking effectiveness can vary between different male–female 2-talker maskers and (b) for stress-based vs. syllable-based languages, competing speech is more difficult to ignore when spoken in a language from the native rhythmic class as compared with a nonnative rhythmic class, regardless of whether the language is familiar or unfamiliar to the listener.

Acknowledgments
We gratefully acknowledge Steven Zupancic, Renée Bogschutz, Melinda Corwin, Rajinder Koul, and Nick Coppola at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, TX, as well as Sylvia Martinez at La Casita Elementary in Clovis, NM, for their contributions to this project. We also thank the language recording volunteers, subjects, and all others who generously gave their time to make the study a success.
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