The role of rhythm in perceiving speech in noise: a comparison of percussionists, vocalists and non-musicians

Jessica Slater, Nina Kraus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

The natural rhythms of speech help a listener follow what is being said, especially in noisy conditions. There is increasing evidence for links between rhythm abilities and language skills; however, the role of rhythm-related expertise in perceiving speech in noise is unknown. The present study assesses musical competence (rhythmic and melodic discrimination), speech-in-noise perception and auditory working memory in young adult percussionists, vocalists and non-musicians. Outcomes reveal that better ability to discriminate rhythms is associated with better sentence-in-noise (but not words-in-noise) perception across all participants. These outcomes suggest that sensitivity to rhythm helps a listener understand unfolding speech patterns in degraded listening conditions, and that observations of a “musician advantage” for speech-in-noise perception may be mediated in part by superior rhythm skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Processing
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • Auditory
  • Language
  • Listening
  • Music
  • Rhythm
  • Speech-in-noise perception
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence

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