Aging often affects sensitivity to the higher frequencies, which results in the loss of sensitivity to phonetic detail in speech. Hearing loss may therefore interfere with the categorisation of two consonants that have most information to differentiate between them in those higher frequencies and less in the lower frequencies, e.g., /f/ and /s/. We investigate two acoustic cues, i.e., formant transitions and fricative intensity, that older listeners might use to differentiate between /f/ and /s/. The results of two phonetic categorisation tasks on 38 older listeners (aged 60+) with varying degrees of hearing loss indicate that older listeners seem to use formant transitions as a cue to distinguish /s/ from /f/. Moreover, this ability is not impacted by hearing loss. On the other hand, listeners with increased hearing loss seem to rely more on intensity for fricative identification. Thus, progressive hearing loss may lead to gradual changes in perceptual cue weighting.
Index Terms: fricative perception, aging, hearing loss, acoustic cues
Bibliographic reference. Scharenborg, Odette / Janse, Esther (2012): "Hearing loss and the use of acoustic cues in phonetic categorisation of fricatives", In INTERSPEECH-2012, 1460-1463.