Laboratory assessment of daily-life speech understanding


  • Jing Xia
  • Ervin Hafter


Current laboratory tests of speech understanding that are in common use in audiology do not incorporate important elements of daily listening that engage the cognitive elements of listening (e.g., attention, working memory). Given that cognitive processing takes on a particularly important role in sub-optimal listening scenarios, it is not surprising that traditional speech tests have had limited success in accounting for the complexities of daily listening caused by complex acoustic environments, listening goals that may change from moment to moment, hearing impairment, distortions caused by signal processing, and the auditory processing effects of aging. With the goal of developing better tools for assessing the impact of hearing impairment and sensory and cognitive interventions (hearing technology, auditory and cognitive training) on speech communication, we are developing a new speech test and measurement paradigm that incorporates important elements of daily listening that engage cognitive aspects of auditory processing.


The new test focuses on understanding the meaning of speech rather than just hearing and reporting the phonetic elements of speech. It also incorporates important demands of daily listening such as the need for listeners to operate within the context of a continuous flow of speech information and with the presence of competing speech. This presentation will review how the test is constructed to achieve these elements of listening, and what impact these elements have on performance when compared to traditional tests of speech reception.


Such research should lead to tests that are better than traditional tests at predicting the effects of treatments on real-life experiences of listening-instrument users. As such, they may form a part of a toolkit that clinicians deploy for determining intervention plans for their patients.



How to Cite

Kalluri S, Xia J, Hafter E. Laboratory assessment of daily-life speech understanding. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2016 Aug. 17 [cited 2021 Oct. 25];44(3). Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada