On the Contribution of Target Audibility to Performance in Spatialized Speech Mixtures

Virginia Best, Christine R. Mason, Jayaganesh Swaminathan, Gerald Kidd, Jr., Kasey M. Jakien, Sean D. Kampel, Frederick J. Gallun, Jörg M. Buchholz, Helen Glyde

Hearing loss has been shown to reduce speech understanding in spatialized multitalker listening situations, leading to the common belief that spatial processing is disrupted by hearing loss. This paper describes related studies from three laboratories that explored the contribution of reduced target audibility to this deficit. All studies used a stimulus configuration in which a speech target presented from the front was masked by speech maskers presented symmetrically from the sides. Together these studies highlight the importance of adequate stimulus audibility for optimal performance in spatialized speech mixtures and suggest that reduced access to target speech information might explain a substantial portion of the “spatial” deficit observed in listeners with hearing loss.