Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Purcell, David W.

2nd Supervisor

Scollie, Susan D.

Joint Supervisor


Auditory feedback, the hearing of one’s own voice, plays an important role in the detection of speech errors and the regulation of speech production. The limited auditory cues available with a hearing loss can reduce the ability of individuals with hearing loss to use their auditory feedback. Hearing aids are a common assistive device that amplifies inaudible sounds. Hearing aids can also change auditory feedback through digital signal processing, such as frequency lowering. Frequency lowering moves high frequency information of an incoming auditory stimulus into a lower frequency region where audibility may be better. This can change how speech sounds are perceived. For example, the high frequency information of /s/ is moved closer to the lower frequency area of /ʃ/. As well, real-time signal processing in a laboratory setting can also manipulate various aspects of speech cues, such as intensity and vowel formants. These changes in auditory feedback may result in changes in speech production as the speech motor control system may perceive these perturbations as speech errors. A series of experiments were carried out to examine changes in speech production as a result of perturbations in the auditory feedback in individuals with normal hearing and hearing loss. Intensity and vowel formant perturbations were conducted using real-time signal processing in the laboratory. As well, changes in speech production were measured using auditory feedback that was processed with frequency lowering technology in hearing aids. Acoustic characteristics of intensity of vowels, sibilant fricatives, and first and second formants were analyzed. The results showed that the speech motor control system is sensitive to changes in auditory feedback because perturbations in auditory feedback can result in changes in speech production. However, speech production is not completely controlled by auditory feedback and other feedback systems, such as the somatosensory system, are also involved. An impairment of the auditory system can reduce the ability of the speech motor control system to use auditory feedback in the detection of speech errors, even when aided with hearing aids. Effects of frequency lowering in hearing aids on speech production depend on the parameters used and acclimatization time.