We are very excited that Prof. Rajka Smiljanic (UT Austin) will present her research in the department's Colloquy Series! Prof. Smiljanic will speak on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 4:00 pm in 206 Blake. The title of her talk is Speech intelligibility variation and listening effort.
Understanding speech is implicit and automatic in favorable listening conditions (Rönnberg, 2003; Rönnberg et al., 2013). However, everyday conversation frequently includes challenges to the clarity of the speech signal, such as background noise, interlocutors who are not native speakers of the target language, or hearing loss. Under these circumstances, extracting meaning from a degraded or ambiguous acoustic signal is compromised and cognitively more demanding. The increased listening effort depletes cognitive resources which can interfere with subsequent processing such as comprehension and memory for what has been heard (Hygge, Kjellberg, & Nöstl, 2015; Pichora-Fuller et al., 2016; Peele, 2018; Tun, McCoy, & Wingfield, 2009). In this talk, I discuss a series of experiments from my lab that explore how speech clarity interacts with and affects a number of different linguistic processes and cognitive functioning. The results contribute evidence that listener-oriented speaking style modifications facilitate speech recognition in noise and auditory memory for native and non-native listeners. The findings suggest that easier-to-process clearly produced sentences eliminated some degree of effort and freed up cognitive resources for storing spoken information in memory. This research has implications for improving communicative effectiveness for various talker and listener groups and human-machine interactions.