The role of auditory feedback in speech production was investigated by examining speakers' phonemic contrasts produced under increases in the noise to signal ratio (N/S). Seven cochlear implant users and seven normal-hearing controls pronounced utterances containing the vowels /i/, /u/, /ε/ and /æ/ and the sibilants /s/ and /ʃ/ while hearing their speech mixed with noise at seven equally spaced levels between their thresholds of detection and discomfort. Speakers' average vowel duration and SPL generally rose with increasing N/S. Average vowel contrast was initially flat or rising; at higher N/S levels, it fell. A contrast increase is interpreted as reflecting speakers' attempts to maintain clarity under degraded acoustic transmission conditions. As N/S increased, speakers could detect the extent of their phonemic contrasts less effectively, and the competing influence of economy of effort led to contrast decrements. The sibilant contrast was more vulnerable to noise; it decreased over the entire range of increasing N/S for controls and was variable for implant users. The results are interpreted as reflecting the combined influences of a clarity constraint, economy of effort and the effect of masking on achieving auditory phonemic goals—with implant users less able to increase contrasts in noise than controls.


The following article appeared in J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume 121, Issue 1, pp. 505-518 (January 2007) and may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2384848


speech processing, hearing aids

Subject Categories

Speech perception, Cochlear implants, Postlingual deafness, Hearing, Voice


Psychology | Speech and Hearing Science


Acoustical Society of America

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©2007 Acoustical Society of America

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