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Extending the high-frequency bandwidth and predicting speech-in-noise recognition: Building on the work of Pat Stelmachowicz


Recent work has demonstrated that high-frequency (>6 kHz) and extended high-frequency (EHF; >8 kHz) hearing is valuable for speech-in-noise recognition. Several studies also indicate that EHF pure-tone thresholds predict speech-in-noise performance. These findings contradict the broadly accepted "speech bandwidth" that has historically been limited to below 8 kHz. This growing body of work is a tribute to the work of Pat Stelmachowicz, whose research was instrumental in revealing the limitations of the prior speech bandwidth work, particularly for female talkers and child listeners. Here, we provide a historical review that demonstrates how the work of Stelmachowicz and her colleagues paved the way for subsequent research to measure effects of extended bandwidths and EHF hearing. We also present a reanalysis of previous data collected in our lab, the results of which suggest that 16-kHz pure-tone thresholds are consistent predictors of speech-in-noise performance, regardless of whether EHF cues are present in the speech signal. Based on the work of Stelmachowicz, her colleagues, and those who have come afterward, we argue that it is time to retire the notion of a limited speech bandwidth for speech perception for both children and adults.

DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1764133