To test for differences in the identification of consonants in carrier sentences versus in VCVs extracted from the sentences, as a function of listeners' hearing-loss categories: moderate, severe, profound. To examine whether pauses inserted in the sentences will facilitate identification of the consonants.
Voiced stops and fricatives were identified by 11 listeners with moderate hearing losses and by 7 listeners with severe losses (between subjects design) for the conditions of consonants in sentences and in VCVs extracted from the sentences (repeated measures). Nine of these listeners also identified the consonants in the sentences with pauses. Six normal-hearing listeners were tested for the consonants in the extracted VCVs and the sentences.
Voiceless stops and fricatives were identified by 4 listeners with profound losses, 18 with severe losses, and 8 with moderate losses (between subjects) for the conditions of extracted VCVs and the sentences (repeated measures). All listeners were selected on the basis of their hearing levels.
The listeners with moderate to severe hearing loss identified the voiced stops and fricatives more poorly when the syllables were in the carrier sentences than when extracted. Insertion of the pauses in the sentence did not improve performance significantly. The normal hearing listeners showed no differences in consonant identification between the two conditions, perhaps due to “ceiling effects.” The voiceless stops and fricatives were also identified more poorly when in the extracted VCVs than in the carrier sentences by other listeners with moderate to profound hearing loss.
Listeners with moderate or greater hearing loss can show poorer identification of consonants that are embedded midway in carrier sentences than when the acoustically identical consonants are in VCVs extracted from the sentences. The performance reduction for the consonants in sentences is not relieved from insertion of brief artificial pauses in the sentences. Further research is needed determine whether hearing-impaired listeners' identification of consonants in target words of clinical word recognition tests is facilitated when the words are extracted from carrier phrases.