A competing talker can impair speech processing through both energetic masking and informational, cognitive aspects of masking. We refer to the latter as informational interference. We hypothesized that informational interference depletes processing resources that could otherwise be allocated to recognizing and understanding target speech. Consequently, informational interference should be more pronounced for target sentences with high processing demands (complex syntax) than for sentences with low processing demands (simple syntax). Furthermore, informational interference should be particularly marked when participants’ own processing demands are increased, as with non-native listeners. Using a speeded picture selection task, we assessed native and non-native listeners’ understanding of subject-relative (simple) and object-relative (complex) sentences, played against a competing talker vs. a matched energetic mask, at various signal-tonoise ratios (SNRs). Although object-relative sentences were more demanding than subject-relative sentences, the competing talker did not affect performance more than did energetic mask controls. This pattern was comparable for native and non-native listeners, and across SNRs. Moreover, individual differences in working memory were not related to differences in the speeded-selection task, regardless of the mask. Eye-tracking and pupillometric versions of this experiment also yielded similar results. Thus, contrary to prior research, we found no evidence that a competing talker requires greater processing resources than energetic masking alone. To address this discrepancy, an ongoing study aims to determine whether the semantic content of the competing talker’s utterances modulates attention to the target.
|Number of pages||1|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|Event||The Third International Conference on Cognitive Hearing Science for Communication - Linköping, Sweden|
Duration: 14 Jun 2015 → 17 Jun 2015
Conference number: 3
|Conference||The Third International Conference on Cognitive Hearing Science for Communication|
|Period||14/06/2015 → 17/06/2015|