Speech perception requires accommodation of a wide range of acoustic variability across talkers. A classic example is the perception of “sh” and “s” fricative sounds, which are categorized according to spectral details of the consonant itself, and also by the context of the voice producing it. Because women's and men's voices occupy different frequency ranges, a listener is required to make a corresponding adjustment of acoustic-phonetic category space for these phonemes when hearing different talkers. This pattern is commonplace in everyday speech communication, and yet might not be captured in accuracy scores for whole words, especially when word lists are spoken by a single talker. Phonetic accommodation for fricatives “s” and “sh” was measured in 20 cochlear implant (CI) users and in a variety of vocoder simulations, including those with noise carriers with and without peak picking, simulated spread of excitation, and pulsatile carriers. CI listeners showed strong phonetic accommodation as a group. Each vocoder produced phonetic accommodation except the 8-channel noise vocoder, despite its historically good match with CI users in word intelligibility. Phonetic accommodation is largely independent of linguistic factors and thus might offer information complementary to speech intelligibility tests which are partially affected by language processing.
Accommodation of gender-related phonetic differences by listeners with cochlear implants and in a variety of vocoder simulations
Matthew B. Winn; Accommodation of gender-related phonetic differences by listeners with cochlear implants and in a variety of vocoder simulations. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 January 2020; 147 (1): 174–190. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0000566
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