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You are here: Home / News & Events / Brittany Williams (Penn State) - Studying Speech Perception in Adverse Listening Conditions

Brittany Williams (Penn State) - Studying Speech Perception in Adverse Listening Conditions

When Oct 18, 2019
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where Moore 127
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Studying Speech Perception in Adverse Listening Conditions


During communication, listeners are often tasked with understanding speech despite complex acoustic environments. These adverse listening conditions can result from environmental noise as well as differences in speakers such as vocal tract size, native language, relative spatial location, etc. Yet, listeners are surprisingly successful at overcoming this variability to efficiently perceive speech (i.e., target) in the presence of competing signals (i.e., maskers). Speech-in-speech recognition is particularly difficult because targets and maskers can be very similar. One way listeners might resolve this issue is by tuning into the differing spectral and temporal characteristics between the target and masker. Another possibility is that intelligibility improves due to differing linguistic interference between the target and masker. Alternatively, listeners might benefit from a combination of both spectro-temporal factors and linguistic interference. In this talk, I will focus on a phenomenon called linguistic release from masking (LRM) in which listeners more easily segregate target and masker speech streams when they are unable to understand the linguistic content of the masker speech. Clearly, LRM increases ease of segregability of target-masker speech streams. Several studies have investigated LRM, but there is still room for further progress determining which factors drive this effect. Extending our understanding of LRM has important implications for addressing how listeners with typical and impaired hearing cope with speech-in-speech recognition in everyday listening conditions.