The influence of the type of background noise on perceptual learning of speech in noise

Zhang, L., Schlaghecken, F., Harte, J. and Roberts, K.L. ORCID: 0000-0002-8735-2249, 2021. The influence of the type of background noise on perceptual learning of speech in noise. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 15: 646137. ISSN 1662-4548

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Objectives: Auditory perceptual learning studies tend to focus on the nature of the target stimuli. However, features of the background noise can also have a significant impact on the amount of benefit that participants obtain from training. This study explores whether perceptual learning of speech in background babble noise generalizes to other, real-life environmental background noises (car and rain), and if the benefits are sustained over time.

Design: Normal-hearing native English speakers were randomly assigned to a training (n = 12) or control group (n = 12). Both groups completed a pre- and post-test session in which they identified Bamford-Kowal-Bench (BKB) target words in babble, car, or rain noise. The training group completed speech-in-babble noise training on three consecutive days between the pre- and post-tests. A follow up session was conducted between 8 and 18 weeks after the post-test session (training group: n = 9; control group: n = 7).

Results: Participants who received training had significantly higher post-test word identification accuracy than control participants for all three types of noise, although benefits were greatest for the babble noise condition and weaker for the car- and rain-noise conditions. Both training and control groups maintained their pre- to post-test improvement over a period of several weeks for speech in babble noise, but returned to pre-test accuracy for speech in car and rain noise.

Conclusion: The findings show that training benefits can show some generalization from speech-in-babble noise to speech in other types of environmental noise. Both groups sustained their learning over a period of several weeks for speech-in-babble noise. As the control group received equal exposure to all three noise types, the sustained learning with babble noise, but not other noises, implies that a structural feature of babble noise was conducive to the sustained improvement. These findings emphasize the importance of considering the background noise as well as the target stimuli in auditory perceptual learning studies.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Neuroscience
Creators: Zhang, L., Schlaghecken, F., Harte, J. and Roberts, K.L.
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Date: 3 May 2021
Volume: 15
ISSN: 1662-4548
Rights: Copyright © 2021 Zhang, Schlaghecken, Harte and Roberts. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 07 Jun 2021 09:09
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2021 09:09

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