Musicians do not benefit from differences in fundamental frequency when listening to speech in competing speech backgrounds

Sara Miay Kim Madsen, Kelly L. Whiteford, Andrew J. Oxenham

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Abstract

Recent studies disagree on whether musicians have an advantage over non-musicians in understanding speech in noise. However, it has been suggested that musicians may be able to use diferences in fundamental frequency (F0) to better understand target speech in the presence of interfering talkers. Here we studied a relatively large (N=60) cohort of young adults, equally divided between nonmusicians and highly trained musicians, to test whether the musicians were better able to understand speech either in noise or in a two-talker competing speech masker. The target speech and competing speech were presented with either their natural F0 contours or on a monotone F0, and the F0 diference between the target and masker was systematically varied. As expected, speech intelligibility improved with increasing F0 diference between the target and the two-talker masker for both natural and monotone speech. However, no signifcant intelligibility advantage was observed for musicians over non-musicians in any condition. Although F0 discrimination was signifcantly better for musicians than for non-musicians, it was not correlated with speech scores. Overall, the results do not support the hypothesis that musical training leads to improved speech intelligibility in complex speech or noise backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12624
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Number of pages9
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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