We are generally able to identify sounds and understand speech with ease, despite the large variations in the acoustics of each sound, which occur due to factors such as different talkers, background noise, and room acoustics. This form of perceptual constancy is likely to be mediated in part by the auditory system's ability to adapt to the ongoing environment or context in which sounds are presented. Auditory context effects have been studied under different names, such as spectral contrast effects in speech and auditory enhancement effects in psychoacoustics, but they share some important properties and may be mediated by similar underlying neural mechanisms. This review provides a survey of recent studies from our laboratory that investigate the mechanisms of speech spectral contrast effects and auditory enhancement in people with normal hearing, hearing loss, and cochlear implants. We argue that a better understanding of such context effects in people with normal hearing may allow us to restore some of these important effects for people with hearing loss via signal processing in hearing aids and cochlear implants, thereby potentially improving auditory and speech perception in the complex and variable everyday acoustic backgrounds that surround us.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (Grant R01 DC012262). Current and past lab members involved in the work described include Lei Feng, Heather Kreft, and Ningyuan Wang.
- Cochlear implants
- Context effects
- Hearing loss
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article