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Audiol Neurootol. 2009;14(5):327-37. doi: 10.1159/000212112. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

Effects of cooperating and conflicting cues on speech intonation recognition by cochlear implant users and normal hearing listeners.

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Center for Device and Radiological Health, US Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD, USA.


Cochlear implant (CI) recipients have only limited access to fundamental frequency (F0) information, and thus exhibit deficits in speech intonation recognition. For speech intonation, F0 serves as the primary cue, and other potential acoustic cues (e.g. intensity properties) may also contribute. This study examined the effects of cooperating or conflicting acoustic cues on speech intonation recognition by adult CI and normal hearing (NH) listeners with full-spectrum and spectrally degraded speech stimuli. Identification of speech intonation that signifies question and statement contrasts was measured in 13 CI recipients and 4 NH listeners, using resynthesized bi-syllabic words, where F0 and intensity properties were systematically manipulated. The stimulus set was comprised of tokens whose acoustic cues (i.e. F0 contour and intensity patterns) were either cooperating or conflicting. Subjects identified if each stimulus is a 'statement' or a 'question' in a single-interval, 2-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) paradigm. Logistic models were fitted to the data, and estimated coefficients were compared under cooperating and conflicting conditions, between the subject groups (CI vs. NH), and under full-spectrum and spectrally degraded conditions for NH listeners. The results indicated that CI listeners' intonation recognition was enhanced by cooperating F0 contour and intensity cues, but was adversely affected by these cues being conflicting. On the other hand, with full-spectrum stimuli, NH listeners' intonation recognition was not affected by cues being cooperating or conflicting. The effects of cues being cooperating or conflicting were comparable between the CI group and NH listeners with spectrally degraded stimuli. These findings suggest the importance of taking multiple acoustic sources for speech recognition into consideration in aural rehabilitation for CI recipients.

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