Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. Jan-Feb 2013;34(1):3-14.
doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e31825e2841.

Release From Perceptual Masking for Children and Adults: Benefit of a Carrier Phrase

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Release From Perceptual Masking for Children and Adults: Benefit of a Carrier Phrase

Angela Yarnell Bonino et al. Ear Hear. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that a carrier phrase can improve word recognition performance for both children and adults by providing an auditory grouping cue. It was hypothesized that the carrier phrase would benefit listeners under conditions in which they have difficulty in perceptually separating the target word from the competing background. To test this hypothesis, word recognition was examined for maskers that were believed to vary in their ability to create perceptual masking. In addition to determining the conditions under which a carrier-phrase benefit is obtained, age-related differences in both susceptibility to masking and carrier-phrase benefit were examined.

Design: Two experiments were conducted to characterize developmental effects in the ability to benefit from a carrier phrase (i.e., "say the word") before the target word. Using an open-set task, word recognition performance was measured for three listener age groups: 5- to 7-year-old children, 8- to 10-year-old children, and adults (18-30 years). For all experiments, target words were presented in each of two carrier-phrase conditions: (1) carrier-present and (2) carrier-absent. Across experiments, word recognition performance was assessed in the presence of multi-talker babble (Experiment 1), two-talker speech (Experiment 2), or speech-shaped noise (Experiment 2).

Results: Children's word recognition performance was generally poorer than that of adults for all three masker conditions. Differences between the two age groups of children were seen for both speech-shaped noise and multi-talker babble, with 5- to 7-year-olds performing more poorly than 8- to 10-year-olds. However, 5- to 7-year-olds and 8- to 10-year-olds performed similarly for the two-talker masker. Despite developmental effects in susceptibility to masking, both groups of children and adults showed a carrier-phrase benefit in multi-talker babble (Experiment 1) and in the two-talker masker (Experiment 2). The magnitude of the carrier-phrase benefit was similar for a given masker type across age groups, but the carrier-phrase benefit was greater in the presence of the two-talker masker than in multi-talker babble. Specifically, the children's average carrier-phrase benefit was 7.1% for multi-talker and 16.8% for the two-talker masker condition. No carrier-phrase benefit was observed for any age group in the presence of speech-shaped noise.

Conclusions: Effects of auditory masking on word recognition performance were greater for children than for adults. The time course of development for susceptibility to masking seems to be more prolonged for a two-talker speech masker than for multi-talker babble or speech-shaped noise. Unique to the present study, this work suggests that a carrier phrase can provide an effective auditory grouping cue for both children and adults under conditions expected to produce substantial perceptual masking.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Average performance scores in percent correct (± 1 SE) are presented for each of the three age groups (5- to 7-year-olds, 8- to 10-year-olds, and adults) in multi-talker babble. Carrier-status is indicated by symbol shape, with filled circles representing carrier-present and open squares representing carrier-absent. The SNR used for testing is indicated on the x-axis.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Individual performance in multi-talker babble is shown as a function of listener age for listeners in the carrier-present (filled circle) and carrier-absent conditions (open square). The vertical line connecting each individual’s data points indicates the amount of carrier-phrase benefit for each listener. The absence of a vertical line indicates no benefit or a reduction in percent correct associated with inclusion of a carrier phrase.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Average performance in percent correct across listeners (± 1 SE) is shown for Experiment 2. The panels separate performance for the two maskers, with speech-shaped noise on the left and the two-talker masker on the right. For each masker, performance is plotted for the two child groups (5- to 7-year-olds and 8- to 10-year-olds) and the two adult groups (SNR-matched and 0 dB SNR). The filled circle symbol represents performance in the carrier-present condition and the open square symbol indicates the carrier-absent condition. The SNR used for testing is indicated on the x-axis.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Individual performance in the two-talker masker is shown as a function of listener age for listeners in the carrier-present (filled circle) and carrier-absent conditions (open square). The vertical line between each individual’s data points indicates the amount of carrier-phrase benefit. The absence of a vertical line indicates no benefit or a reduction in percent correct associated with inclusion of a carrier phrase. The adults shown on this figure are the group of adults tested at a 0 dB SNR, whereas children were tested at a +10 dB SNR.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 14 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

Feedback