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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.