Continuous speech with pauses inserted between words increases cortical tracking of speech envelope

Deoisres, S., Lu, Y., Vanheusden, F.J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2369-6189, Bell, S.L. and Simpson, D.M., 2023. Continuous speech with pauses inserted between words increases cortical tracking of speech envelope. PLoS ONE. ISSN 1460-2199 (Forthcoming)

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The decoding multivariate Temporal Response Function (decoder) or speech envelope reconstruction approach is a well-known tool for assessing the cortical tracking of speech envelope. It is used to analyse the correlation between the speech stimulus and the neural response. It is known that auditory late responses are enhanced with longer gaps between stimuli, but it is not clear if this applies to the decoder, and whether the addition of gaps/pauses in continuous speech could be used to increase the envelope reconstruction accuracy.

We investigated this in normal hearing participants who listened to continuous speech with no added pauses (natural speech), and then with short (250 ms) or long (500 ms) silent pauses inserted between each word. The total duration for continuous speech stimulus with no, short, and long pauses were approximately, 10 minutes, 16 minutes, and 21 minutes, respectively. EEG and speech envelope were simultaneously acquired and then filtered into delta (1-4 Hz) and theta (4-8 Hz) frequency bands. In addition to analysing responses to the whole speech envelope, speech envelope were also segmented to focus response analysis on onset and non-onset regions of speech separately.

Our results show that continuous speech with additional pauses inserted between words significantly increases the speech envelope reconstruction correlations compared to using natural speech, in both the delta and theta frequency bands. It also appears that these increase in speech envelope reconstruction are dominated by the onset regions in the speech envelope.

Introducing pauses in speech stimuli has potential clinical benefit for increasing auditory evoked response detectability, though with the disadvantage of speech sounding less natural. The strong effect of pauses and onsets on the decoder should be considered when comparing results from different speech corpora. Whether the increased cortical response, when longer pauses are introduced, reflect improved intelligibility requires further investigation.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Creators: Deoisres, S., Lu, Y., Vanheusden, F.J., Bell, S.L. and Simpson, D.M.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date: 17 July 2023
ISSN: 1460-2199
Rights: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 24 Jul 2023 11:27
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2023 11:38

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