Effects of intermittent changes in speech intelligibility on the neural dynamics of speech tracking

Fabian Schmidt*, Ya-Ping Chen, Anne Keitel, Sebastian Rösch, Ronny Hannemann, Maja Serman, Anne Hauswald, Nathan Weisz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Understanding speech in difficult listening situations is challenging. A popular technique to simulate difficult listening situations while still enabling high parametric control is noise-vocoded speech. Recent findings by our group have shown that during periods of continuous vocoded speech alpha power decreases with increased levels of degrading, whilst speech-brain coherence (1-7 Hz) only increased as long as speech was still comprehensible. This putatively captures the underlying compensatory processes following hearing loss and cochlear implant surgery. However, different processes may be recruited when listening is only temporarily impaired. In these situations information obtained during periods of clear speech might give important context information for periods where speech is not comprehensible. Here, we investigated how intermittent degradation of an otherwise clear speech stream affects speech processing. We used several measures to capture both the spectral and temporal dynamics of neural speech processing at cortical and subcortical levels of the auditory hierarchy using MEG. We observed (as previously reported) that alpha power declines with a decrease in intelligibility. However, opposed to previous findings speech-brain coherence decreases as well. This pattern was already starting to emerge at putatively subcortical processing stages. While the speech-brain coherence decreased with intelligibility we noted a more precise tuning in the coherence spectrum to the syllable rate of speech (4-5 Hz) when speech was vocoded (7-Channels). In sum, we show that the activation patterns involved in the processing of vocoded speech strongly depend on whether clear speech offers a context for the vocoded audio stream or not.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020
EventAPAN 2020 - Advances and Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience - , United States
Duration: 22 Oct 202023 Oct 2020


Online-ConferenceAPAN 2020 - Advances and Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience
Abbreviated titleAPAN 2020
CountryUnited States


  • brain processing of speech and language
  • subcortical auditory processing

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 501 Psychology

Cite this