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J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Feb;115(2):833-43.

The benefit of binaural hearing in a cocktail party: effect of location and type of interferer.

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Hearing Research Center and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


The "cocktail party problem" was studied using virtual stimuli whose spatial locations were generated using anechoic head-related impulse responses from the AUDIS database [Blauert et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 103, 3082 (1998)]. Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were measured for Harvard IEEE sentences presented from the front in the presence of one, two, or three interfering sources. Four types of interferer were used: (1) other sentences spoken by the same talker, (2) time-reversed sentences of the same talker, (3) speech-spectrum shaped noise, and (4) speech-spectrum shaped noise, modulated by the temporal envelope of the sentences. Each interferer was matched to the spectrum of the target talker. Interferers were placed in several spatial configurations, either coincident with or separated from the target. Binaural advantage was derived by subtracting SRTs from listening with the "better monaural ear" from those for binaural listening. For a single interferer, there was a binaural advantage of 2-4 dB for all interferer types. For two or three interferers, the advantage was 2-4 dB for noise and speech-modulated noise, and 6-7 dB for speech and time-reversed speech. These data suggest that the benefit of binaural hearing for speech intelligibility is especially pronounced when there are multiple voiced interferers at different locations from the target, regardless of spatial configuration; measurements with fewer or with other types of interferers can underestimate this benefit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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