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JSLHR-H-16-0464oster_SuppS1.pdf (207.6 kB)

Target and masker effects on infants’ and adults’ detection of speech (Oster & Werner, 2017)

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-11-30, 19:46 authored by Monika-Maria Oster, Lynne A. Werner
Purpose: Several investigators have compared infants’ detection of speech in speech and nonspeech maskers to evaluate developmental differences in masking. Such comparisons have produced contradictory results, possibly because each investigation used different stimuli. The current study examined target and masker effects on infants’ and adults’ detection of speech.
Method: An observer-based procedure was used to compare infants’ and adults’ detection of the vowel /ʌ/ and the word “baby” in a 2-talker speech masker and matched speech-spectrum noise. The measure of performance was d′. A total of 43 7-month-old infants and 41 young adults were randomly assigned to 1 target–masker combination condition, and mean performance was compared across conditions at each age.
Results: Adults’ detection was influenced by an interaction between the target and the masker: Adults detected the vowel better in the 2-talker masker than in speech-spectrum noise but detected the word equally well in the 2 maskers. In contrast, infants detected both targets better in speech-spectrum noise than in the 2-talker masker.
Conclusions: The relative effects of the masker on target detection by infants and adults depend on the target to be detected. Thus, conclusions drawn about differences between infants and adults in the mechanisms responsible for masking will depend on the stimuli. Standardization of speech stimuli in developmental research would help clarify the nature of infants’ segregation difficulties.

Supplemental Material S1. The choice of specific maskers and speech targets was based on a pilot experiment that assessed adult masked sensitivity to several different targets in two-talker maskers and speech-spectrum noise. This paper gives a detailed description of this pilot experiment.

Oster, M.-M., & Werner, L. A. (2017). The influence of target and masker characteristics on infants’ and adults’ detection of speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 3625–3631.


This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R01 DC000396 awarded to Lynne A. Werner, T32 DC000033 awarded to Monika- Maria Oster, F31 DC016209 awarded to Monika-Maria Oster, and P30 DC004661 awarded to Edwin W. Rubel.