Speech recognition by normal-hearing and cochlear implant listeners as a function of intensity resolution

Philipos C. Loizou, Michael Dorman, Oguz Poroy, Tony Spahr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Scopus citations


    The importance of intensity resolution in terms of the number of intensity steps needed for speech recognition was assessed for normal-hearing and cochlear implant listeners. In experiment 1, the channel amplitudes extracted from a six-channel continuous interleaved sampling (CIS) processor were quantized into 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 steps. Consonant recognition was assessed for five cochlear implant listeners, using the Med-El/CIS-link device, as a function of the number of steps in the electrical dynamic range. Results showed that eight steps within the dynamic range are sufficient for reaching asymptotic performance in consonant recognition. These results suggest that amplitude resolution is not a major factor in determining consonant identification. In experiment 2, the relationship between spectral resolution (number of channels) and intensity resolution (number of steps) in normal-hearing listeners was investigated. Speech was filtered through 4-20 frequency bands, synthesized as a linear combination of sine waves with amplitudes extracted from the envelopes of the bandpassed waveforms, and then quantized into 2-32 levels to produce stimuli with varying degrees of intensity resolution. Results showed that the number of steps needed to achieve asymptotic performance was a function of the number of channels and the speech material used. For vowels, asymptotic performance was obtained with four steps, while for consonants, eight steps were needed for most channel conditions, consistent with our findings in experiment 1. For sentences processed though 4 channels, 16 steps were needed to reach asymptotic performance, while for sentences processed through 16 channels, 4 steps were needed. The results with normal-hearing listeners on sentence recognition point to an inverse relationship between spectral resolution and intensity resolution. When spectral resolution is poor (i.e., a small number of channels is available) a relatively fine intensity resolution is needed to achieve high levels of understanding. Conversely, when the intensity resolution is poor, a high degree of spectral resolution is needed to achieve asymptotic performance. The results of this study, taken together with previous findings on the effect of reduced dynamic range, suggest that the performance of cochlear implant subjects is primarily limited by the small number (four to six) of channels received, and not by the small number of intensity steps or reduced dynamic range. (C) 2000 Acoustical Society of America.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2377-2387
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number5 I
    StatePublished - 2000

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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