J Am Acad Audiol 2020; 31(08): 566-577
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1709448
Research Article

Neural Coding of Syllable-Final Fricatives with and without Hearing Aid Amplification

Sharon E. Miller
1   Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Yang Zhang
2   Department of Speech-Language Hearing Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
3   Center for Neurobehavioral Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
4   Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
› Author Affiliations
Funding Dr. Miller and Dr. Zhang received funds from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota.


Background Cortical auditory event-related potentials are a potentially useful clinical tool to objectively assess speech outcomes with rehabilitative devices. Whether hearing aids reliably encode the spectrotemporal characteristics of fricative stimuli in different phonological contexts and whether these differences result in distinct neural responses with and without hearing aid amplification remain unclear.

Purpose To determine whether the neural coding of the voiceless fricatives /s/ and /ʃ/ in the syllable-final context reliably differed without hearing aid amplification and whether hearing aid amplification altered neural coding of the fricative contrast.

Research Design A repeated-measures, within subject design was used to compare the neural coding of a fricative contrast with and without hearing aid amplification.

Study Sample Ten adult listeners with normal hearing participated in the study.

Data Collection and Analysis Cortical auditory event-related potentials were elicited to an /ɑs/–/ɑʃ/ vowel-fricative contrast in unaided and aided listening conditions. Neural responses to the speech contrast were recorded at 64-electrode sites. Peak latencies and amplitudes of the cortical response waveforms to the fricatives were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance.

Results The P2' component of the acoustic change complex significantly differed from the syllable-final fricative contrast with and without hearing aid amplification. Hearing aid amplification differentially altered the neural coding of the contrast across frontal, temporal, and parietal electrode regions.

Conclusions Hearing aid amplification altered the neural coding of syllable-final fricatives. However, the contrast remained acoustically distinct in the aided and unaided conditions, and cortical responses to the fricative significantly differed with and without the hearing aid.

Publication History

Received: 15 April 2019

Accepted: 10 January 2020

Article published online:
27 April 2020

© 2020. American Academy of Audiology. This article is published by Thieme.

Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.
333 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

  • References

  • 1 Hedrick MS, Younger MS. Labeling of /s/ and /∫/ by listeners with normal and impaired hearing, revisited. J Speech Lang Hear Res 2003; 46 (03) 636-648
  • 2 Pittman AL, Stelmachowicz PG. Perception of voiceless fricatives by normal-hearing and hearing-impaired children and adults. J Speech Lang Hear Res 2000; 43 (06) 1389-1401
  • 3 Zeng FG, Turner CW. Recognition of voiceless fricatives by normal and hearing-impaired subjects. J Speech Hear Res 1990; 33 (03) 440-449
  • 4 Harris KS. Cues for the discrimination of American English fricatives in spoken syllables. Lang Speech 1958; 1: 1-7
  • 5 Heinz JM, Stevens KN. On the properties of voiceless fricatives. J Acoust Soc Am 1961; 33: 589-596
  • 6 Hughes GW, Halle M. Spectral properties of fricative consonants. J Acoust Soc Am 1956; 28: 303-310
  • 7 Redford MA, Diehl RL. The relative perceptual distinctiveness of initial and final consonants in CVC syllables. J Acoust Soc Am 1999; 106 (3, Pt 1): 1555-1565
  • 8 Dubno JR, Dirks DD, Langhofer LR. Evaluation of hearing-impaired listeners using a Nonsense-syllable Test. II. Syllable recognition and consonant confusion patterns. J Speech Hear Res 1982; 25 (01) 141-148
  • 9 Souza PE, Tremblay KL. New perspectives on assessing amplification effects. Trends Amplif 2006; 10 (03) 119-143
  • 10 Stelmachowicz PG, Kopun J, Mace A, Lewis DE, Nittrouer S. The perception of amplified speech by listeners with hearing loss: acoustic correlates. J Acoust Soc Am 1995; 98 (03) 1388-1399
  • 11 Stevens KN. Acoustic Phonetics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; 1998
  • 12 Ladefoged P. Elements of Acoustic Phonetics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 1962
  • 13 Kimlinger C, McCreery R, Lewis D. High-frequency audibility: the effects of audiometric configuration, stimulus type, and device. J Am Acad Audiol 2015; 26 (02) 128-137
  • 14 Tremblay K, Kraus N, McGee T. The time course of auditory perceptual learning: neurophysiological changes during speech-sound training. Neuroreport 1998; 9 (16) 3557-3560
  • 15 Arlinger S, Gatehouse S, Bentler RA. et al. Report of the Eriksholm Workshop on auditory deprivation and acclimatization. Ear Hear 1996; 17 (03) 87S-98S
  • 16 Kuk FK, Potts L, Valente M, Lee L, Picirrillo J. Evidence of acclimatization in persons with severe-to-profound hearing loss. J Am Acad Audiol 2003; 14 (02) 84-99
  • 17 Easwar V, Glista D, Purcell DW, Scollie SD. The effect of stimulus choice on cortical auditory evoked potentials (CAEP): consideration of speech segment positioning within naturally produced speech. Int J Audiol 2012; 51 (12) 926-931
  • 18 Swink S, Stuart A. Auditory long latency responses to tonal and speech stimuli. J Speech Lang Hear Res 2012; 55 (02) 447-459
  • 19 Koerner TK, Zhang Y, Nelson PB, Wang B, Zou H. Neural indices of phonemic discrimination and sentence-level speech intelligibility in quiet and noise: a mismatch negativity study. Hear Res 2016; 339: 40-49
  • 20 Koerner TK, Zhang Y, Nelson PB, Wang B, Zou H. Neural indices of phonemic discrimination and sentence-level speech intelligibility in quiet and noise: a P3 study. Hear Res 2017; 350: 58-67
  • 21 Key APF, Dove GO, Maguire MJ. Linking brainwaves to the brain: an ERP primer. Dev Neuropsychol 2005; 27 (02) 183-215
  • 22 Näätänen R, Winkler I. The concept of auditory stimulus representation in cognitive neuroscience. Psychol Bull 1999; 125 (06) 826-859
  • 23 Hari R. Activation of the human auditory cortex by speech sounds. Acta Otolaryngol Suppl 1991; 491: 132-137 , discussion 138
  • 24 Martin BA, Boothroyd A. Cortical, auditory, evoked potentials in response to changes of spectrum and amplitude. J Acoust Soc Am 2000; 107 (04) 2155-2161
  • 25 Kaukoranta E, Hari R, Lounasmaa OV. Responses of the human auditory cortex to vowel onset after fricative consonants. Exp Brain Res 1987; 69 (01) 19-23
  • 26 Sharma A, Marsh CM, Dorman MF. Relationship between N1 evoked potential morphology and the perception of voicing. J Acoust Soc Am 2000; 108 (06) 3030-3035
  • 27 Tremblay KL, Billings CJ, Friesen LM, Souza PE. Neural representation of amplified speech sounds. Ear Hear 2006; 27 (02) 93-103
  • 28 Miller S, Zhang Y. Neural coding of phonemic fricative contrast with and without hearing aid. Ear Hear 2014; 35 (04) e122-e133
  • 29 Zhang Y, Kuhl PK, Imada T, Kotani M, Tohkura Y. Effects of language experience: neural commitment to language-specific auditory patterns. Neuroimage 2005; 26 (03) 703-720
  • 30 Moulines E, Charpentier F. Pitch-synchronous wave-form processing techniques for text-to-speech synthesis using diphones. Speech Commun 1990; 9: 453-467
  • 31 Boersma P, Weenink DJM. PRAAT, a system for doing phonetics by computer. Glot International 2001; 5 (9–10): 341-345
  • 32 Fortune TW, Woodruff BD, Preves DA. A new technique for quantifying temporal envelope contrasts. Ear Hear 1994; 15 (01) 93-99
  • 33 Souza PE. Effects of compression on speech acoustics, intelligibility, and sound quality. Trends Amplif 2002; 6 (04) 131-165
  • 34 Rao A, Zhang Y, Miller S. Selective listening of concurrent auditory stimuli: an event-related potential study. Hear Res 2010; 268 (1–2): 123-132
  • 35 Zhang Y, Koerner T, Miller S. et al. Neural coding of formant-exaggerated speech in the infant brain. Dev Sci 2011; 14 (03) 566-581
  • 36 Delorme A, Makeig S. EEGLAB: an open source toolbox for analysis of single-trial EEG dynamics including independent component analysis. J Neurosci Methods 2004; 134 (01) 9-21
  • 37 Bell AJ, Sejnowski TJ. An information-maximization approach to blind separation and blind deconvolution. Neural Comput 1995; 7 (06) 1129-1159
  • 38 Gilley PM, Sharma A, Dorman M, Finley CC, Panch AS, Martin K. Minimization of cochlear implant stimulus artifact in cortical auditory evoked potentials. Clin Neurophysiol 2006; 117 (08) 1772-1782
  • 39 Jung TP, Makeig S, Humphries C. et al. Removing electroencephalographic artifacts by blind source separation. Psychophysiology 2000; 37 (02) 163-178
  • 40 Miller S, Zhang Y. Validation of the cochlear implant artifact correction tool for auditory electrophysiology. Neurosci Lett 2014; 577: 51-55
  • 41 Ostroff JM, Martin BA, Boothroyd A. Cortical evoked response to acoustic change within a syllable. Ear Hear 1998; 19 (04) 290-297
  • 42 Ceponiene R, Torki M, Alku P, Koyama A, Townsend J. Event-related potentials reflect spectral differences in speech and non-speech stimuli in children and adults. Clin Neurophysiol 2008; 119 (07) 1560-1577
  • 43 Jacobson GP, Lombardi DM, Gibbens ND, Ahmad BK, Newman CW. The effects of stimulus frequency and recording site on the amplitude and latency of multichannel cortical auditory evoked potential (CAEP) component N1. Ear Hear 1992; 13 (05) 300-306
  • 44 Näätänen R, Picton T. The N1 wave of the human electric and magnetic response to sound: a review and an analysis of the component structure. Psychophysiology 1987; 24 (04) 375-425
  • 45 Hickok G, Poeppel D. Dorsal and ventral streams: a framework for understanding aspects of the functional anatomy of language. Cognition 2004; 92 (1–2): 67-99
  • 46 Gatehouse S. The time course and magnitude of perceptual acclimatization to frequency responses: evidence from monaural fitting of hearing aids. J Acoust Soc Am 1992; 92 (03) 1258-1268