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J Acoust Soc Am. 2001 Aug;110(2):1164-75.

Effects of low-pass filtering on the intelligibility of speech in quiet for people with and without dead regions at high frequencies.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.


A dead region is a region of the cochlea where there are no functioning inner hair cells (IHCs) and/or neurons; it can be characterized in terms of the characteristic frequencies of the IHCs bordering that region. We examined the effect of high-frequency amplification on speech perception for subjects with high-frequency hearing loss with and without dead regions. The limits of any dead regions were defined by measuring psychophysical tuning curves and were confirmed using the TEN test described in Moore et al. [Br. J. Audiol. 34, 205-224 (2000)]. The speech stimuli were vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV) nonsense syllables, using one of three vowels (/i/, /a/, and /u/) and 21 different consonants. In a baseline condition, subjects were tested using broadband stimuli with a nominal input level of 65 dB SPL. Prior to presentation via Sennheiser HD580 earphones, the stimuli were subjected to the frequency-gain characteristic prescribed by the "Cambridge" formula, which is intended to give speech at 65 dB SPL the same overall loudness as for a normal listener, and to make the average loudness of the speech the same for each critical band over the frequency range important for speech intelligibility (in a listener without a dead region). The stimuli for all other conditions were initially subjected to this same frequency-gain characteristic. Then, the speech was low-pass filtered with various cutoff frequencies. For subjects without dead regions, performance generally improved progressively with increasing cutoff frequency. This indicates that they benefited from high-frequency information. For subjects with dead regions, two patterns of performance were observed. For most subjects, performance improved with increasing cutoff frequency until the cutoff frequency was somewhat above the estimated edge frequency of the dead region, but hardly changed with further increases. For a few subjects, performance initially improved with increasing cutoff frequency and then worsened with further increases, although the worsening was significant only for one subject. The results have important implications for the fitting of hearing aids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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