Semin Hear 2004; 25(1): 93-111
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-823051
Published in 2004 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

The Use of Digit Triplets to Evaluate Word-Recognition Abilities in Multitalker Babble

Richard H. Wilson1 , Deborah G. Weakley1
  • 1James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, Tennessee, and Departments of Surgery and Communicative Disorders, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
Reflections on Tom When I arrived at Northwestern in the fall of 1967, I immediately identified with Tom (whom at the time I called Dr. Tillman). He was the only person on the faculty who talked as “twangy” and “country” as I. Tom's drawl was passed off as “general American, Southern fringe”, but this masquerade I attribute to academia. Importantly to me, Tom served as a model that people from the “Southern fringe” could be successful in the great Northern halls of higher education.Throughout the years since my student days at Northwestern, Tom, without hesitation, would respond to any requests I had, even those that appeared trivial. Several weeks before he passed away, I asked Tom if he could put his hands on the raw data for the Northwestern University Auditory Test No. 20, which is the Northwestern University Auditory Test No. 6 in a competing message paradigm. On my behalf, Tom rummaged through the archives-which I think were located in a basement, somewhere long forgotten-in search of the requested materials. Tom was that kind of person, a model gentleman and a model academic. We need more people like Tom.Richard H. Wilson
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
02 April 2004 (online)

The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of using digit triplets in multitalker babble as a paradigm to measure the ability of patients to understand speech in background noise. Nine digits (one to ten, excluding seven) were randomized into triplet sets and embedded in multitalker babble at 6- to -20-dB signal-to-babble (S/B) ratios. Recognition performances by 24 listeners with normal hearing and 48 listeners with sensorineural hearing loss were measured for the digit triplets and for monosyllabic words both in multitalker babble presented at 80-dB SPL. There was essentially no overlap between the distributions of performances by the two groups of listeners on either of the materials. For both groups of listeners, the difference between performances on the materials at the 50% point was approximately 18 dB. Both the word and digit materials in a background of multitalker babble are sensitive to the inabilities of listeners with hearing loss to understand speech in background noise.


Richard H Wilson, Ph.D. 

VA Medical Center, Audiology (126)

Mountain Home, TN 37684