Acoustic source characteristics, across-formant integration, and speech intelligibility under competitive conditions


An important aspect of speech perception is the ability to group or select formants using cues in the acoustic source characteristics-for example, fundamental frequency (F0) differences between formants promote their segregation. This study explored the role of more radical differences in source characteristics. Three-formant (F1+F2+F3) synthetic speech analogues were derived from natural sentences. In Experiment 1, F1+F3 were generated by passing a harmonic glottal source (F0 = 140 Hz) through second-order resonators (H1+H3); in Experiment 2, F1+F3 were tonal (sine-wave) analogues (T1+T3). F2 could take either form (H2 or T2). In some conditions, the target formants were presented alone, either monaurally or dichotically (left ear = F1+F3; right ear = F2). In others, they were accompanied by a competitor for F2 (F1+F2C+F3; F2), which listeners must reject to optimize recognition. Competitors (H2C or T2C) were created using the time-reversed frequency and amplitude contours of F2. Dichotic presentation of F2 and F2C ensured that the impact of the competitor arose primarily through informational masking. In the absence of F2C, the effect of a source mismatch between F1+F3 and F2 was relatively modest. When F2C was present, intelligibility was lowest when F2 was tonal and F2C was harmonic, irrespective of which type matched F1+F3. This finding suggests that source type and context, rather than similarity, govern the phonetic contribution of a formant. It is proposed that wideband harmonic analogues are more effective informational maskers than narrowband tonal analogues, and so become dominant in across-frequency integration of phonetic information when placed in competition.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Vision, Hearing and Language
College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Optometry > Centre for Vision and Hearing Research
Additional Information: This article has been published 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. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher. Annual Conference of the British Society of Audiology, Sep, 2013, Keel, United Kingdom; Preliminary presentations on this research have been given at the aforementioend conference and at the 167th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (Providence, Rhode Island, May 2014). Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (Grant No. ES/K004905/1) Supplemental DOI:
Uncontrolled Keywords: auditory grouping,formant integration,informational masking,source characteristics,speech intelligibility,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,Behavioral Neuroscience,Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1939-1277
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024 07:16
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2015 14:00
Full Text Link: http://psycnet. ... ls/xhp/41/3/680
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2015-06
Published Online Date: 2015-03-09
Authors: Roberts, Brian (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-4232-9459)
Summers, Robert J. (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4857-7354)
Bailey, Peter J.



Version: Accepted Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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