Speech recognition in adverse conditions: A review

Sven L. Mattys, Matthew H. Davis, Ann R. Bradlow, Sophie K. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

428 Scopus citations


This article presents a review of the effects of adverse conditions (ACs) on the perceptual, linguistic, cognitive, and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying speech recognition. The review starts with a classification of ACs based on their origin: Degradation at the source (production of a noncanonical signal), degradation during signal transmission (interfering signal or medium-induced impoverishment of the target signal), receiver limitations (peripheral, linguistic, cognitive). This is followed by a parallel, yet orthogonal classification of ACs based on the locus of their effect: Perceptual processes, mental representations, attention, and memory functions. We then review the added value that ACs provide for theories of speech recognition, with a focus on fundamental themes in psycholinguistics: Content and format of lexical representations, time-course of lexical access, word segmentation, feed-back in speech perception and recognition, lexical-semantic integration, interface between the speech system and general cognition, neuroanatomical organisation of speech processing. We conclude by advocating an approach to speech recognition that includes rather than neutralises complex listening environments and individual differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-978
Number of pages26
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Adverse conditions
  • Cognitive load
  • Lexical access
  • Masking
  • Signal degradation
  • Speech recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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