Continuous speech shows pronounced fluctuations in amplitude over time, with most prominent modulation frequencies near the average syllabic rate of 3-4Hz, suggesting that these temporal-envelope cues may carry critical information for communication. Recent psychophysical studies have confirmed that the capacity to perceive temporal-envelope information can be considered necessary or even sufficient for correct speech identification. However, despite the importance of the temporal structure of speech, the precise nature of the auditory temporal-envelope processor is still a matter of debate.
The main objectives of the proposed two-year project on temporal-envelope processing are as follows:
(i) to test the existence of selective channels in the modulation domain,
(ii) to investigate the hypothesis that different temporal-envelope features are extracted via separate processing pathways, and
(iii) to assess the deleterious effect of competing amplitude modulations on speech perception.
These issues will be addressed by using complex temporal envelopes in a series of:
(i) psychophysical detection and discrimination experiments,
(ii) perceptual cross-features learning experiments, and
(iii) speech-recognition experiments, using normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners.
The project will take place within the Auditory Perception Group of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge (GB), under the supervision of Prof. Brian Moore. Results are expected to have practical long-term implications for (i) the improvement of speech processing strategies used in hearing aids, cochlear implants, and automatic speech-recognition systems, and (ii) the clinical assessment and rehabilitation of auditory processing disorders. As regards relevance to the HRM activity, the proposed project is in line with current national and European efforts to maintain and promote the EUs academic and industrial supremacy in the field of Hearing Science.
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