Role of contextual cues on the perception of spectrally reduced interrupted speech


Understanding speech within an auditory scene is constantly challenged by interfering noise in suboptimal listening environments when noise hinders the continuity of the speech stream. In such instances, a typical auditory-cognitive system perceptually integrates available speech information and "fills in" missing information in the light of semantic context. However, individuals with cochlear implants (CIs) find it difficult and effortful to understand interrupted speech compared to their normal hearing counterparts. This inefficiency in perceptual integration of speech could be attributed to further degradations in the spectral-temporal domain imposed by CIs making it difficult to utilize the contextual evidence effectively. To address these issues, 20 normal hearing adults listened to speech that was spectrally reduced and spectrally reduced interrupted in a manner similar to CI processing. The Revised Speech Perception in Noise test, which includes contextually rich and contextually poor sentences, was used to evaluate the influence of semantic context on speech perception. Results indicated that listeners benefited more from semantic context when they listened to spectrally reduced speech alone. For the spectrally reduced interrupted speech, contextual information was not as helpful under significant spectral reductions, but became beneficial as the spectral resolution improved. These results suggest top-down processing facilitates speech perception up to a point, and it fails to facilitate speech understanding when the speech signals are significantly degraded.

Publication Title

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America