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J Acoust Soc Am. 2007 Apr;121(4):2296-311.

Time course of speech changes in response to unanticipated short-term changes in hearing state.

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Speech Communication Group, Research Laboratory of Electronics, and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Room 36-511, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The timing of changes in parameters of speech production was investigated in six cochlear implant users by switching their implant microphones off and on a number of times in a single experimental session. The subjects repeated four short, two-word utterances, /dV1n#SV2d/ (S = /s/ or /S/), in quasi-random order. The changes between hearing and nonhearing states were introduced by a voice-activated switch at V1 onset. "Postural" measures were made of vowel sound pressure level (SPL), duration, F0; contrast measures were made of vowel separation (distance between pair members in the formant plane) and sibilant separation (difference in spectral means). Changes in parameter values were averaged over multiple utterances, lined up with respect to the switch. No matter whether prosthetic hearing was blocked or restored, contrast measures for vowels and sibilants did not change systematically. Some changes in duration, SPL and F0 were observed during the vowel within which hearing state was changed, V1, as well as during V2 and subsequent utterance repetitions. Thus, sound segment contrasts appear to be controlled differently from the postural parameters of speaking rate and average SPL and F0. These findings are interpreted in terms of the function of hypothesized feedback and feedforward mechanisms for speech motor control.

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