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Effects of Noise Reduction on Temporal Fine Structure and Temporal Envelope Cues Background Studies implementing single-channel noise

reduction algorithms do not provide expected improvements in speech intelligibility. The expected improvement is typically based on the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), a measure that is informative for predicting speech intelligibility in the noise background for unprocessed stimulus but that overestimates performance for stimuli processed by noise reduction algorithms. It has been demonstrated that speech intelligibility in noise is dependent on reliable envelope and fine structure information. In this study the effect of selected noise reduction algorithms on performance in basic psychophysical tasks involving the use of temporal fine structure (TFS) cues and temporal envelope (ENV) cues was investigated. The predictive power of SNR was verified by comparing performance in conditions using processed stimuli with that in conditions using unprocessed noise with appropriately reduced intensity added to the target stimulus. Methods Listeners ability to use TFS cues was measured in two tasks, one task involving the measurement of just-detectable interaural time differences (ITDs) at low frequencies, and the other involving detection of a spectral shift of a harmonic complex filtered into the frequency range between 1800 and 2800 Hz. Listeners ability to use envelope cues was measured in a task involving detection of the interaural envelope phase difference (IPD) for a sinusoidally amplitude modulated 4-kHz carrier. In each task, seven conditions were tested: (1) stimuli were presented in quiet; (2) stimuli were presented in noise at a fixed SNR; (3)-(5) stimuli in noise were presented after processing using different noise reduction algorithms; (6)-(7) stimuli were mixed with noise whose level was reduced to match that at the output of the noise reduction algorithms used in conditions (3) and (4), respectively. Results In all tasks, adding noise impaired listeners performance. The effects of noise reduction algorithms varied across the tasks and stimulus parameters, but never reached the level observed for the stimuli in quiet. Performance with the clean noise with reduced intensity estimated for specific algorithms was better than that from the corresponding noise reduction algorithm, indicating that the SNR does not accurately predict performance in the basic tasks performed. Conclusions

The results confirm that the presence of noise degrades both TFS and ENV cues. SNR is not a good predictor of performance involving the use of either cue. New measures for predicting the use of TFS and ENV cues for processed stimuli will be discussed. [Supported by NIH grant R01DC010374.]