Release from informational masking in a monaural competing-speech task with vocoded copies of the maskers presented contralaterally

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Single-sided deafness prevents access to the binaural cues that help normal-hearing listeners extract target speech from competing voices. Little is known about how listeners with one normal-hearing ear might benefit from access to severely degraded audio signals that preserve only envelope information in the second ear. This study investigated whether vocoded masker-envelope information presented to one ear could improve performance for normal-hearing listeners in a multi-talker speech-identification task presented to the other ear. Target speech and speech or non-speech maskers were presented unprocessed to the left ear. The right ear received no signal, or either an unprocessed or eight-channel noise-vocoded copy of the maskers. Presenting the vocoded maskers contralaterally yielded significant masking release from same-gender speech maskers, albeit less than in the unprocessed case, but not from opposite-gender speech, stationary-noise, or modulated-noise maskers. Unmasking also occurred with as few as two vocoder channels and when an attenuated copy of the target signal was added to the maskers before vocoding. These data show that delivering masker-envelope information contralaterally generates masking release in situations where target-masker similarity impedes monaural speech-identification performance. By delivering speech-envelope information to a deaf ear, cochlear implants for single-sided deafness have the potential to produce a similar effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-713
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume137
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

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