Listeners experience linguistic masking release in noise-vocoded speech-in-speech recognition

Navin Viswanathan, Kostas Kokkinakis, Brittany T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether listeners with normal hearing perceiving noise-vocoded speech-in-speech demonstrate better intelligibility of target speech when the background speech was mismatched in language (linguistic release from masking [LRM]) and/or location (spatial release from masking [SRM]) relative to the target. We also assessed whether the spectral resolution of the noise-vocoded stimuli affected the presence of LRM and SRM under these conditions. Method: In Experiment 1, a mixed factorial design was used to simultaneously manipulate the masker language (within-subject, English vs. Dutch), the simulated masker location (within-subject, right, center, left), and the spectral resolution (between-subjects, 6 vs. 12 channels) of noise-vocoded target–masker combinations presented at +25 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). In Experiment 2, the study was repeated using a spectral resolution of 12 channels at +15 dB SNR. Results: In both experiments, listeners’ intelligibility of noise-vocoded targets was better when the background masker was Dutch, demonstrating reliable LRM in all conditions. The pattern of results in Experiment 1 was not reliably different across the 6- and 12-channel noise-vocoded speech. Finally, a reliable spatial benefit (SRM) was detected only in the more challenging SNR condition (Experiment 2). Conclusion: The current study is the first to report a clear LRM benefit in noise-vocoded speech-in-speech recognition. Our results indicate that this benefit is available even under spectrally degraded conditions and that it may augment the benefit due to spatial separation of target speech and competing backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-435
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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