On Older Listeners' Ability to Perceive Dynamic Pitch Purpose Natural speech comes with variation in pitch, which serves as an important cue for speech recognition. The present study investigated older listeners' dynamic pitch perception with a focus on interindividual variability. In particular, we asked whether some of the older listeners' inability to perceive dynamic pitch stems from the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2016
On Older Listeners' Ability to Perceive Dynamic Pitch
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jing Shen
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Richard Wright
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Pamela E. Souza
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Disclosure : The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure : The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Jing Shen: jing.shen@northwestern.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers
    Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers×
Article Information
Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2016
On Older Listeners' Ability to Perceive Dynamic Pitch
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 572-582. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-15-0228
History: Received June 30, 2015 , Revised September 29, 2015 , Accepted November 25, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 572-582. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-15-0228
History: Received June 30, 2015; Revised September 29, 2015; Accepted November 25, 2015

Purpose Natural speech comes with variation in pitch, which serves as an important cue for speech recognition. The present study investigated older listeners' dynamic pitch perception with a focus on interindividual variability. In particular, we asked whether some of the older listeners' inability to perceive dynamic pitch stems from the higher susceptibility to the interference from formant changes.

Method A total of 22 older listeners and 21 younger controls with at least near-typical hearing were tested on dynamic pitch identification and discrimination tasks using synthetic monophthong and diphthong vowels.

Results The older listeners' ability to detect changes in pitch varied substantially, even when musical and linguistic experiences were controlled. The influence of formant patterns on dynamic pitch perception was evident in both groups of listeners. Overall, strong pitch contours (i.e., more dynamic) were perceived better than weak pitch contours (i.e., more monotonic), particularly with rising pitch patterns.

Conclusions The findings are in accordance with the literature demonstrating some older individuals' difficulty perceiving dynamic pitch cues in speech. Moreover, they suggest that this problem may be prominent when the dynamic pitch is carried by natural speech and when the pitch contour is not strong.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (Grants R01DC60014 and R01DC12289 awarded to Pamela E. Souza). The authors thank Stuart Rosen and Tim Green for helpful suggestions on study design; Arleen Li, Laura Mathews, and Paul Reinhart for assistance with data collection; and Tim Schoof for comments on the manuscript. A portion of the data was presented at the Acoustical Society of America Meeting 2014, Indianapolis, IN.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access