, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 211-217

Increasing the intelligibility of speech through multiple phonemic restorations


Outside of the laboratory, listening conditions are often less than ideal, and when attending to sounds from a particular source, portions are often obliterated by extraneous noises. However, listeners possess rather elegant reconstructive mechanisms. Restoration can be complete, so that missing segments are indistinguishable from those actually present and the listener is unaware that the signal is fragmented. This phenomenon, called temporal induction (TI), has been studied extensively with nonverbal signals and to a lesser extent with speech. Earlier studies have demonstrated that TI can produce illusory continuity spanning gaps of a few hundred milliseconds when portions of a signal are replaced by a louder sound capable of masking the signal were it actually present. The present study employed various types of speech signals with periodic gaps and measured the effects upon intelligibility produced by filling these gaps with noises. Enhancement of intelligibility through multiple phonemic restoration occurred when the acoustic requirements for TI were met and when sufficient contextual information was available in the remaining speech fragments. It appears that phonemic restoration is a specialized form of TI that uses linguistic skills for the reconstruction of obliterated speech.

Portions of this work were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (DC00208) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (88-0320). These experiments were outlined in a paper presented at the 119th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, with a brief abstract appearing in the Journal of the Acoustical Society (Vol. 87, Suppl. 1, 1990, S71).