Speech Understanding in Competing Noise and Speech Maskers

When the environment is noisy many people find it difficult to understand speech. This difficulty is often exacerbated for listeners who have hearing loss and for listeners who speak English as their second language. A combination of energetic and informational masking often causes the difficulty people experience while trying to understand speech in noisy environments. In the research laboratory, we can evoke both energetic and informational masking listening conditions. Data from several research studies investigating speech understanding in adverse listening conditions will be presented. Experimental results for noisy background listening conditions and more complex listening conditions, including multiple talker scenarios, will be discussed. Speech perception data will be presented describing the effect of different types of competing speech maskers, including clear speech, accented speech, and foreign language speech. Data from monolingual and bilingual speakers of English with normal hearing, and data from listeners with hearing loss will be presented. Implications for clinical audiology practice will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to articulate differences between energetic and informational masking.
2. Participants will be able to evaluate differences between competing speech maskers.
3. Participants will appreciate differences between monolingual English and second-language English speaking listeners’ ability to understand English speech in adverse listening environments.