The effects of time-reversed room acoustics on word recognition abilities were examined using virtual auditory space techniques, which allowed for temporal manipulation of the room acoustics independent of the speech source signals. Two acoustical conditions were tested: one in which room acoustics were simulated in a realistic time-forward fashion and one in which the room acoustics were reversed in time, causing reverberation and acoustic reflections to precede the direct-path energy. Significant decreases in speech intelligibility-from 89% on average to less than 25%-were observed between the time-forward and time-reversed rooms. This result is not predictable using standard methods for estimating speech intelligibility based on the modulation transfer function of the room. It may instead be due to increased degradation of onset information in the speech signals when room acoustics are time-reversed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Work supported by NIH-NIDCD (R01DC008168).