Effect of frequency mismatch and band partitioning on vocal tract length perception in vocoder simulations of cochlear implant processing

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The vocal tract length (VTL) of a speaker is an important voice cue that aids speech intelligibility in multi-talker situations. However, cochlear implant (CI) users demonstrate poor VTL sensitivity. This may be partially caused by the mismatch between frequencies received by the implant and those corresponding to places of stimulation along the cochlea. This mismatch can distort formant spacing, where VTL cues are encoded. In this study, the effects of frequency mismatch and band partitioning on VTL sensitivity were investigated in normal hearing listeners with vocoder simula- tions of CI processing. The hypotheses were that VTL sensitivity may be reduced by increased fre- quency mismatch and insufficient spectral resolution in how the frequency range is partitioned, specifically where formants lie. Moreover, optimal band partitioning might mitigate the detrimen- tal effects of frequency mismatch on VTL sensitivity. Results showed that VTL sensitivity decreased with increased frequency mismatch and reduced spectral resolution near the low fre- quencies of the band partitioning map. Band partitioning was independent of mismatch, indicating that if a given partitioning is suboptimal, a better partitioning might improve VTL sensitivity despite the degree of mismatch. These findings suggest that customizing the frequency partitioning map may enhance VTL perception in individual CI users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3505-3519
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2018


  • vocal tract length
  • frequency-to-electrode map

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