Sentence intelligibility during segmental interruption and masking by speech-modulated noise: Effects of age and hearing loss.J Acoust Soc Am. 2015 Jun; 137(6):3487-501.JA
This study investigated how single-talker modulated noise impacts consonant and vowel cues to sentence intelligibility. Younger normal-hearing, older normal-hearing, and older hearing-impaired listeners completed speech recognition tests. All listeners received spectrally shaped speech matched to their individual audiometric thresholds to ensure sufficient audibility with the exception of a second younger listener group who received spectral shaping that matched the mean audiogram of the hearing-impaired listeners. Results demonstrated minimal declines in intelligibility for older listeners with normal hearing and more evident declines for older hearing-impaired listeners, possibly related to impaired temporal processing. A correlational analysis suggests a common underlying ability to process information during vowels that is predictive of speech-in-modulated noise abilities. Whereas, the ability to use consonant cues appears specific to the particular characteristics of the noise and interruption. Performance declines for older listeners were mostly confined to consonant conditions. Spectral shaping accounted for the primary contributions of audibility. However, comparison with the young spectral controls who received identical spectral shaping suggests that this procedure may reduce wideband temporal modulation cues due to frequency-specific amplification that affected high-frequency consonants more than low-frequency vowels. These spectral changes may impact speech intelligibility in certain modulation masking conditions.