Four experiments investigated the effect of the fundamental frequency (F0) contour on speech intelligibility against interfering sounds. Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were measured for sentences with different manipulations of their F0 contours. These manipulations involved either reductions in F0 variation, or complete inversion of the F0 contour. Against speech-shaped noise, a flattened F0 contour had no significant impact on SRTs compared to a normal F0 contour; the mean SRT for the flattened contour was only 0.4dB higher. The mean SRT for the inverted contour, however, was 1.3dB higher than for the normal F0 contour. When the sentences were played against a single-talker interferer, the overall effect was greater, with a 2.0dB difference between normal and flattened conditions, and 3.8dB between normal and inverted. There was no effect of altering the F0 contour of the interferer, indicating that any abnormality of the F0 contour serves to reduce intelligibility of the target speech, but does not alter the masking produced by interfering speech. Low-pass filtering the F0 contour increased SRTs; elimination of frequencies between 2 and 4Hz had the greatest effect. Filtering sentences with inverted contours did not have a significant effect on SRTs.

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