A new research environment for speech testing using hearing-device processing algorithms
A common complaint among subjects with hearing loss is the difficulty of understanding speech in the presence of background noise. Speech testing is an integral part of a clinical assessment of hearing loss, complementing the pure tone audiogram and providing useful information regarding speech tolerance and recognition ability as well as helpful cues for hearing-aid fitting. Among other indicators, speech tests are used to determine the speech reception threshold (SRT) defined as the lowest level at which speech can be correctly identified at least 50 percent of the time. The use of such tests is very popular in research as it allows an experimental manipulation of listening conditions in order to study their effects on speech perception with respect to a baseline condition.In this work, we present a new software-based speech testing environment developed in MATLAB in order to facilitate research in speech perception. It includes a graphical user interface which, in addition to the controls required to run the speech test, provides parameters to specify a subject’s hearing profile and a range of listening and processing conditions. It makes use of head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) to simulate different spatial configurations for binaural listening, and a hearing-device simulator to perform a variety of signal-processing conditions commonly found in hearing devices. The system’s design and feature set will be described along with some experimental results collected using the speech material from the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT).
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