Speech masking effects in speech communication across the lifespan

A research project funded by the ESRC

This project will lead to a better understanding of how speech communication is affected, across the lifespan, by interference resulting from other voices (primarily informational masking IM) or environmental noise (primarily energetic masking EM). Although it has been suggested that children and older adults are more greatly affected by informational masking than are young adults, this finding is purely based on data resulting from analytic listening tests. These listening tests do not take into account the dynamic adjustments made in communicative speech to counter the effects of masking.

This project is novel in that it is, for the first time, investigating informational masking effects on speech communication across the lifespan (8-85 years) using communicative tasks rather than perception tests devoid of communicative intent. The project is also novel in using an experiential sampling approach, in an additional study, to relate, for the same participants, masking effects as evaluated in laboratory tests with real-time ratings of perceived communication difficulty in different environments over a two-week period. A final benefit will be to obtain, for the first time, acoustic-phonetic measures characterising spontaneous speech for a full age range from 8 to 85 years.

Administrative Details :

Title: Speech masking effects in speech communication across the lifespan

Grant Period: June 2017 – May 2020
Grant Award: £482,086
Grant Reference Number: ES/P002803/1
Investigators: Valerie Hazan (PI), Outi Tuomainen (Co-I), Stuart Rosen (Co-I)
Research Associate:

External Collaborator:

Linda Taschenberger

Ann Bradlow (Northwestern)