10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Discovering Consistent Word Confusions in Noise

Martin Cooke

Ikerbasque, Spain

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.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Cooke, Martin (2009): "Discovering consistent word confusions in noise", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 1887-1890.