Objectives: The auditory speech sounds evaluation 2009 test battery for assessment of speech pitch perception is presented. It was designed to (a) assess perception of pitch in linguistic contexts without the confounds of secondary acoustic cues, (b) be usable with listeners from different language backgrounds, and (c) be suitable for use in a clinical setting. The need for this test battery arises from increased awareness of the importance of prosody in clinical practice, and the development of methods for improving pitch perception in listeners with profound hearing losses.
Methods: Identification and discrimination tasks based on linguistic contexts were developed to establish listeners' just noticeable differences (JNDs) for pitch changes. Stimuli were pseudosentences and pseudowords based on speech from a female speaker, overlain with stylized pitch contours. Target pitch excursions were varied from the 200 Hz baseline to a maximum of 349 Hz. Ninety normal-hearing listeners participated in test validation that assessed goals (a)-(c), established test-retest reliability, and gathered normative data.
Results: The JNDs on non-linguistic, control tasks were lower than on linguistic ones, showing that non-linguistic tasks may overestimate pitch perception in speech. Listeners from different language backgrounds scored comparably on most linguistic tasks, and test-retest differences were non-significant. Test usability as evidenced by task duration and subject experience seemed satisfactory for clinical use.