The Effect of Simultaneous Text on the Recall of Noise-Degraded Speech

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Abstract

Written and spoken language utilize the same processing system, enabling text to modulate speech processing. We investigated how simultaneously presented text affected speech recall in babble noise using a retrospective recall task. Participants were presented with text-speech sentence pairs in multitalker babble noise and then prompted to recall what they heard or what they read. In Experiment 1, sentence pairs were either congruent or incongruent and they were presented in silence or at 1 of 4 noise levels. Audio and Visual control groups were also tested with sentences presented in only 1 modality. Congruent text facilitated accurate recall of degraded speech; incongruent text had no effect. Text and speech were seldom confused for each other. A consideration of the effects of the language background found that monolingual English speakers outperformed early multilinguals at recalling degraded speech; however the effects of text on speech processing were analogous. Experiment 2 considered if the benefit provided by matching text was maintained when the congruency of the text and speech becomes more ambiguous because of the addition of partially mismatching text-speech sentence pairs that differed only on their final keyword and because of the use of low signal-to-noise ratios. The experiment focused on monolingual English speakers; the results showed that even though participants commonly confused text-for-speech during incongruent text-speech pairings, these confusions could not fully account for the benefit provided by matching text. Thus, we uniquely demonstrate that congruent text benefits the recall of noise-degraded speech.

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