On older listeners’ ability to perceive dynamic pitch

Jing Shen*, Richard Wright, Pamela E. Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Natural speech comes with variation in pitch, which serves as an important cue for speech recognition. The present study investigated older listeners’ dynamic pitch perception with a focus on interindividual variability. In particular, we asked whether some of the older listeners’ inability to perceive dynamic pitch stems from the higher susceptibility to the interference from formant changes. Method: A total of 22 older listeners and 21 younger controls with at least near-typical hearing were tested on dynamic pitch identification and discrimination tasks using synthetic monophthong and diphthong vowels. Results: The older listeners’ ability to detect changes in pitch varied substantially, even when musical and linguistic experiences were controlled. The influence of formant patterns on dynamic pitch perception was evident in both groups of listeners. Overall, strong pitch contours (i.e., more dynamic) were perceived better than weak pitch contours (i.e., more monotonic), particularly with rising pitch patterns. Conclusions: The findings are in accordance with the literature demonstrating some older individuals’ difficulty perceiving dynamic pitch cues in speech. Moreover, they suggest that this problem may be prominent when the dynamic pitch is carried by natural speech and when the pitch contour is not strong.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-582
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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