Intelligibility and Clarity of Reverberant Speech: Effects of Wide Dynamic Range Compression Release Time and Working Memory Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of varying wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) release time on intelligibility and clarity of reverberant speech. The study also considered the role of individual working memory. Method Thirty older listeners with mild to moderately-severe sloping sensorineural hearing ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2016
Intelligibility and Clarity of Reverberant Speech: Effects of Wide Dynamic Range Compression Release Time and Working Memory
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Paul N. Reinhart
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Pamela E. Souza
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
    Knowles Hearing Center, 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 Paul N. Reinhart: preinhart@u.northwestern.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Todd Ricketts
    Associate Editor: Todd Ricketts×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2016
Intelligibility and Clarity of Reverberant Speech: Effects of Wide Dynamic Range Compression Release Time and Working Memory
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1543-1554. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0371
History: Received October 28, 2015 , Revised January 24, 2016 , Accepted May 23, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1543-1554. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0371
History: Received October 28, 2015; Revised January 24, 2016; Accepted May 23, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of varying wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) release time on intelligibility and clarity of reverberant speech. The study also considered the role of individual working memory.

Method Thirty older listeners with mild to moderately-severe sloping sensorineural hearing loss participated. Individuals were divided into high and low working memory groups on the basis of the results of a reading span test. Participants listened binaurally to sentence stimuli simulated at a range of reverberation conditions and WDRC release times using a high compression ratio. Outcome measures included objective intelligibility and subjective clarity ratings.

Results Speech intelligibility and clarity ratings both decreased as a function of reverberation. The low working memory group demonstrated a greater decrease in intelligibility with increasing amounts of reverberation than the high working memory group. Both groups, regardless of working memory, had higher speech intelligibility and clarity ratings with longer WDRC release times. WDRC release time had a larger effect on speech intelligibility under more reverberant conditions.

Conclusions Reverberation significantly affects speech intelligibility, particularly for individuals with lower working memory. In addition, longer release times in hearing aids may improve listener speech intelligibility and clarity in reverberant environments.

Acknowledgments
Work is supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DC0060014 and R01 DC012289 and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. The authors thank James Kates for providing the compression simulation, Pavel Zahorik for providing the virtual reverberation simulation, Nirmal Srinivasan for processing the reverberation stimuli, and Laura Mathews for help with data collection. Portions of this work were presented at the Conference on Cognitive Hearing Science for Communication, Linköping, Sweden, June 2015.
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