Nottingham Trent University, NHBRU & IHR in Nottingham, PhD in Experimental Psychology

See you, hear you: The contribution of visual information to understanding speech in background noise

with Dr Paula Stacey, Dr Pádraig Kitterick, Dr Andrew Dunn and Dr Chris Sumner,,

Being able to see the face of a talker helps to understand speech in noisy environments. This visual information is thought to be particularly beneficial to people with impaired hearing or cochlear implant users. This project will examine whether the ability to benefit from visual speech information varies according to the fidelity of the auditory signal, and whether audiovisual training aids listening in noisy environments.

People with impaired hearing and users of cochlear implants often gain considerable benefit from being able to see the face of a talker (Erber, 1975; Kaiser et al., 2003). This “visual speech” information is likely to be especially important in noisy environments, in which the acoustic speech information is obscured by background noise. To fully understand speech perception in everyday environments, we must therefore consider how listeners combine acoustic and visual information to understand speech. The perception of speech that has been acoustically degraded so as to mimic the acoustic information provided by cochlear implants has been studied extensively for audio-only situations (e.g., Shannon et al., 1995; Stacey & Summerfield, 2008). Audio-visual perception of degraded speech, however, has received little attention, despite being ecologically more relevant. This project will examine whether the ability to benefit from visual speech information depends on the fidelity of the auditory information, and whether audio-visual training can increase the benefit.

Applications are encouraged from motivated students with a degree in psychology, neuroscience or related areas. This is a joint venture between Nottingham Trent University (NTU), NHBRU and IHR. The successful candidate will register for a 3-year PhD in the School of Social Sciences at NTU. Click here for further information. Applications for this project are processed by NTU. To apply, please download the NTU application pack here.

Shannon RV et al. (1995). Speech recognition with primary temporal cues. Science 270, 303-4.

Stacey PC & Summerfield AQ (2008). Comparison of word-, sentence-, and phoneme-based training strategies in improving the perception of spectrally distorted speech. J Speech Lang Hear Res 51, 526-38.