Discovering consistent word confusions in noise

2009

Abstract  Listeners make mistakes when communicating under adverse conditions, with overall error rates reasonably well-predicted by existing speech intelligibility metrics. However, a detailed examination of confusions made by a majority of listeners is more likely to provide insights into processes of normal word recognition. The current study measured the rate at which robust misperceptions occurred for highly-confusable words embedded in noise. In a second experiment, confusions discovered in the first listening test were subjected to a range of manipulations designed to help identify their cause. These experiments reveal that while majority confusions are quite rare, they occur sufficiently often to make large-scale discovery worthwhile. Surprisingly few misperceptions were due solely to energetic masking by the noise, suggesting that speech and noise "react" in complex ways which are not well-described by traditional masking concepts.


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