In natural listening environments, the background noises and the acoustic spaces they occupy can vary greatly, both in their characteristics and in their impact on speech intelligibility. It has been suggested that listeners build up a statistical representation of ongoing noises; however, listeners can move around a room or move from one room to another, constantly changing both the background noises and the reverberation around them. If listeners are to make use of such statistics to aid in speech intelligibility, they must engage in a constant adaptation. We asked normal and hearing-impaired listeners to identify in real-time a stream of random target words in a contiguous series of novel acoustic environments lasting 13 s each, thus measuring the extent and time-course of changes in speech intelligibility that listeners experience in a new environment. The results from our task demonstrate that most listeners experience a rapid increase in speech intelligibility over several seconds of exposure to certain acoustic environments, but not to others. This suggests that there are classes or types of noises and reverberations that can be adapted to over a short time course and others that cannot. [Work supported by the MRC and the CSO.]
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Speech intelligibility can improve rapidly during exposure to a novel acoustic environment
Sofie Aspeslagh, D. Fraser Clark, Michael A. Akeroyd, W. Owen Brimijoin; Speech intelligibility can improve rapidly during exposure to a novel acoustic environment. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 April 2014; 135 (4_Supplement): 2227. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4877286
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