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"Turn an ear to hear": the benefit of head orientation to speech intelligibility in complex acoustic environments

Grange, Jacques ORCID: and Culling, John ORCID: 2020. "Turn an ear to hear": the benefit of head orientation to speech intelligibility in complex acoustic environments. Presented at: Forum Acusticum 2020 (e-FA), Virtual (Lyon, France), 7-11 December 2020. e-Forum Acusticum Proceeding.
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Spatial release from masking (SRM) is traditionally studied with listeners facing the target talker, because such attitude has long been assumed to be most natural or required, either for optimal lip-reading performance or to benefit from the directionality of prostheses microphones. In the laboratory, with a single interferer in the rear hemifield, we showed that a modest, 30ᴼ head orientation away from directly facing the target benefited normal-hearing listeners and cochlear implant users by as much as 4.5 dB. The lip-reading benefit was unaffected by head orientation, both benefits being cumulative. With a sensitivity pattern rotated by 30-45ᴼ by the acoustic head-shadow, head-orientation benefit (HOB) persisted with directional microphones. To confirm the robustness of HOB in complex acoustic environments, an advanced simulation of a real restaurant was developed. Binaural room impulse responses measured with a head and torso simulator moved across the restaurant enabled simulation over headphones of a listener attending to a talker sat across one of six tables, either facing the talker or with a 30ᴼ head turn either side. Multiple spatially distributed interferers were either continuous speech-shaped noise or speech. With normal-hearing (NH) listeners, mild-moderately hearing-impaired (HI) listeners or simulated cochlear implant (CI) users, 1-2 dB HOB was found at the best predicted 30ᴼ head orientation, regardless of table position in the restaurant. This confirmed the robustness of HOB with the diffuse interference and reverberation typically found in social settings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: In Press
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RF Otorhinolaryngology
Funders: EPSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 10 December 2020
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2022 13:16

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