Assessing the speech perception/production link through the lens of coarticulation

PhD student

Rachel Haines

Supervisory team

Dr Heather Fortnum (Retired)

Dr Antje Heinrich (MRC IHR)

Funder

NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU programme

Study period

2010-2013

Current research shows that how a person speaks (speech production) and how a person understands speech (speech perception) is related. However, the relationship between speech perception and speech production in the context of hearing loss is unknown. As such, speech and language therapy for individuals with a hearing loss and assessments of benefits of hearing technologies (such as hearing aids, cochlear implants) tend to focus on perception and production in isolation from each other.

We are addressing this gap in knowledge by using a mechanism called coarticulation to explore the perception and production link in both normal hearing and hard-of-hearing adults. Coarticulation refers to the overlapping of speech sounds during production. Coarticulation has also been shown to play a role in speech perception. It has even been suggested that coarticulation can help to understand speech in noisy environments; a challenge for anyone with a degree of hearing loss.

This project aims to provide important information as to how speech perception and speech production are related in people with a hearing loss and to explore how coarticulatory cues can aid understanding in speech in noise conditions. Outcomes have the potential to inform future directions of research to better assess and address speech and language difficulties.