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Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 822–836 | Cite as

Infants’ listening in multitalker environments: Effect of the number of background talkers

  • Rochelle S. NewmanEmail author
Research Articles

Abstract

Infants are often spoken to in the presence of background sounds, including speech from other talkers. In the present study, we compared 5- and 8.5-month-olds’ abilities to recognize their own names in the context of three different types of background speech: that of a single talker, multitalker babble, and that of a single talker played backward. Infants recognized their names at a 10-dB signal-to-noise ratio in the multiple-voice condition but not in the single-voice (nonreversed) condition, a pattern opposite to that of typical adult performance. Infants similarly failed to recognize their names when the background talker’s voice was reversed—that is, unintelligible, but with speech-like acoustic properties. These data suggest that infants may have difficulty segregating the components of different speech streams when those streams are acoustically too similar. Alternatively, infants’ attention may be drawn to the time-varying acoustic properties associated with a single talker’s speech, causing difficulties when a single talker is the competing sound.

Keywords

Acoustical Society Target Speaker Speech Stream Multiple Voice Single Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive ScienceUniversity of MarylandCollege Park

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