Objective: To develop two versions of the Mandarin Hearing In Noise Test (MHINT). These tests are adaptive tests that measure the reception threshold for sentences (RTSs) in quiet and in noise. The RTS is the presentation level at which half the sentences are correctly recognized.
Design: Four studies were undertaken to (1) develop sentence materials, (2) equalize sentence difficulty, (3) create phonemically balanced sentence lists; and (4) evaluate within-list response variability, inter-list reliability, and produce normative data. A total of 137 native Mandarin (Putonghua) speaking subjects in Mainland China and 89 native Mandarin speakers in Taiwan participated. They had normal hearing thresholds at 25 dB HL or better. RTSs were measured under four headphone test conditions: Quiet, and in noise with noise originating from the 0 degree (Noise Front), 90 degrees to the right (Noise Right), and 90 degrees to the left (Noise Left). The speech originated from the front (0 degree) in all conditions. The noise level was fixed at 65 dBA, and the speech was varied adaptively to find the RTS.
Results: Two versions of the test materials, consisting of 24, 20-sentence lists each in Mandarin spoken in the Mainland (the MHINT-M) and the dialect of Mandarin spoken in Taiwan (the MHINT-T), were created from two sets of 240 sentences containing 10 syllables per sentence. The mean Quiet RTS was 14.7 dBA, using the MHINT-M, and 19.4 dBA, using the MHINT-T. Using the MHINT-M, the mean RTS for Noise Front was -4.3 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), -11.7 dB SNR for Noise Right, and -11.7 dB SNR for Noise Left. Using the MHINT-T, the Noise Front RTS was -4.0 dB SNR, -10.7 dB SNR for Noise Right, and -11.0 dB SNR for Noise Left. Results in noise are slightly better than those seen for the English HINT norms. Response variability within list was low, and inter-list reliability was high, indicating that consistent results can be obtained using any list. Confidence intervals are reported.
Conclusions: The two versions of the MHINT are the first standardized Mandarin sentence speech intelligibility tests. Similar to other language versions of the HINT, the MHINT was developed using the same rationale as the English HINT, allowing norm-referenced results for the MHINT to be compared directly with results in other languages. The MHINT would benefit from further evaluation of its validity.