Language and Speech Laboratory

Discovering consistent word confusions in noise

Authors
Martin Cooke.

Conference
Interspeech in Brighton

Year
2009
Abstract
Listeners make mistakes when communicating under adverse conditions, with overall error rates reasonably well-predicted by existing speech intelligibility metrics. However, a detailed examination of confusions made by a majority of listeners is more likely to provide insights into processes of normal word recognition. The current study measured the rate at which robust misperceptions occurred for highly-confusable words embedded in noise. In a second experiment, confusions discovered in the first listening test were subjected to a range of manipulations designed to help identify their cause. These experiments reveal that while majority confusions are quite rare, they occur sufficiently often to make large-scale discovery worthwhile. Surprisingly few misperceptions were due solely to energetic masking by the noise, suggesting that speech and noise "react" in complex ways which are not well-described by traditional masking concepts.