Effects of spectral smearing and temporal fine-structure distortion on the fluctuating-masker benefit for speech at a fixed signal-to-noise ratio

Joshua G.W. Bernstein*, Douglas S. Brungart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

Normal-hearing listeners receive less benefit from momentary dips in the level of a fluctuating masker for speech processed to degrade spectral detail or temporal fine structure (TFS) than for unprocessed speech. This has been interpreted as evidence that the magnitude of the fluctuating-masker benefit (FMB) reflects the ability to resolve spectral detail and TFS. However, the FMB for degraded speech is typically measured at a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) to yield performance similar to normal speech for the baseline (stationary-noise) condition. Because the FMB decreases with increasing SNR, this SNR difference might account for the reduction in FMB for degraded speech. In this study, the FMB for unprocessed and processed (TFS-removed or spectrally smeared) speech was measured in a paradigm that adjusts word-set size, rather than SNR, to equate stationary-noise performance across processing conditions. Compared at the same SNR and percent-correct level (but with different set sizes), processed and unprocessed stimuli yielded a similar FMB for four different fluctuating maskers (speech-modulated noise, one opposite-gender interfering talker, two same-gender interfering talkers, and 16-Hz interrupted noise). These results suggest that, for these maskers, spectral or TFS distortions do not directly impair the ability to benefit from momentary dips in masker level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-488
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume130
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

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