J Am Acad Audiol 2015; 26(07): 670-677
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.15014
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2015) American Academy of Audiology

Recognition Performance of Interrupted Monosyllabic Words: The Effects of Ten Interruption Locations

Richard H. Wilson
Heather M. Hamm
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Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: A previous experiment with 70 interrupted monosyllabic words demonstrated that recognition performance was influenced by the location of an interruption pattern (Wilson, 2014). The interruption paradigm (10 interruptions/sec, 50% duty cycle periodic interruption) was referenced to word onset. The words were interrupted such that alternate 50-msec segments were parsed to separate files. In the 0-msec condition the first on-segment coincided with the word onset, whereas in the 50-msec condition the first on-segment occurred 50 msec after word onset. The 0- and 50-msec conditions were complementary halves. Recognition performance by young listeners was 19% better on the 0-msec condition (86%) than on the 50-msec condition (68%); there were a minority number of words on which the results were just the opposite. A second study using the same interruption paradigm but 300 different words reported similar relations, with 63% correct recognition on the 0-msec condition and 48% on the 50-msec condition (Wilson and Irish, 2015). Both studies suggest the importance that the first 50 msec of the target word has on intelligibility.

Purpose: To define in detail the effects that interruption patterns have on word recognition as the interruption pattern was incremented with reference to word onset from 0 to 90 msec in 10-msec steps.

Research Design: A repeated-measures design with ten interruption patterns (onset conditions).

Study Sample: Twenty-four young listeners (19–29 yr) with normal hearing for pure tones participated in this study.

Data Collection and Analyses: Seventy consonant-nucleus-consonant words formed the corpus of materials with 25 additional words used for practice. For each participant, the 700 stimuli (70 words by ten onset conditions) were interrupted (10 interruptions/sec; 50% duty cycle), randomized, and recorded on compact disc in 28, 25-word tracks.

Results: The overall mean recognition performance was 80.4% with mean performances for the ten conditions ranging from 73.0% (50-msec condition) to 87.7% (90-msec condition). The mean recognition performances changed systematically, decreasing from the 0-msec condition to the 50-msec condition and then increasing to the 90-msec condition, which formed a U-shaped function of the means. Of the 45 mean paired comparisons (post hoc t-tests with Bonferroni corrections), there were 17 significant differences at the p ≤ 0.001 level, increasing to 31 significant differences when the significance level was increased to the p ≤ 0.01 level. Visual inspection of the 70-word performance functions revealed that 32 words had flat functions, 34 words had U-shaped functions, two functions were rising, one was an inverted V-shape, and one was irregular.

Conclusions: First, some words (utterances of those words) were immune to any differential effects of the ten interruption patterns. These words with flat performance functions constituted 46% of the word corpus. Second, 49% of the words exhibited U-shaped performance functions that were always systematic, going from maximum to minimum and back to maximum. These words were thought to be more dependent on the initial consonant to attain maximum performance. The conclusion is that some words are not affected by the location of the interruption pattern (those with flat functions) whereas other words are substantially affected (those with U-shaped functions).