Effects of Signal Level and Spectral Contrast on Vowel Formant Discrimination for Normal-Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Listeners PurposeThe aim of this study was to determine whether increasing the overall speech level or the individual spectral contrasts of vowel sounds can improve vowel formant discrimination for listeners both with and without normal hearing.MethodThresholds of vowel formant discrimination were examined for the F2 frequencies of 3 American English vowels ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2013
Effects of Signal Level and Spectral Contrast on Vowel Formant Discrimination for Normal-Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Listeners
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ashley Woodall
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Chang Liu
    The University of Texas at Austin
  • Correspondence to Chang Liu: changliu@utexas.edu
  • Editor: Larry Humes
    Editor: Larry Humes×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Article
Research Article   |   June 01, 2013
Effects of Signal Level and Spectral Contrast on Vowel Formant Discrimination for Normal-Hearing and Hearing-Impaired Listeners
American Journal of Audiology, June 2013, Vol. 22, 94-104. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2012/12-0044)
History: Received July 27, 2012 , Revised October 30, 2012 , Accepted October 31, 2012
 
American Journal of Audiology, June 2013, Vol. 22, 94-104. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2012/12-0044)
History: Received July 27, 2012; Revised October 30, 2012; Accepted October 31, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

PurposeThe aim of this study was to determine whether increasing the overall speech level or the individual spectral contrasts of vowel sounds can improve vowel formant discrimination for listeners both with and without normal hearing.

MethodThresholds of vowel formant discrimination were examined for the F2 frequencies of 3 American English vowels for listeners with and without normal hearing. Spectral contrasts of the F2 were enhanced by 3, 6, and 9 dB. Vowel stimuli were presented at 70 and 90 dB SPL.

ResultsThe thresholds of listeners with hearing impairment were reduced significantly after spectral enhancement was implemented, especially at 90 dB SPL, whereas normal-hearing listeners did not benefit from spectral enhancement.

ConclusionThese results indicate that a combination of spectral enhancement of F2 and high speech level is most beneficial to improve vowel formant discrimination for listeners with hearing impairment.

Acknowledgments
A portion of the data was presented at the 158th Acoustic Society of America Meeting in San Antonio, TX. This study was funded by the University of Texas at Austin Undergraduate Research Fellowship to the first author. Special thanks are given to Craig Champlin for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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