Study Links Speaker’s Voice Pitch to Listener’s Attention Voice pitch may help listeners tune into specific conversations in a noisy environment, according to research from Imperial College London. In the study, published in eLife, researchers observed the role of the auditory brainstem (located below the auditory cortex) in helping listeners with selective attention. Participants (16 total, ages 18–32) ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   February 01, 2018
Study Links Speaker’s Voice Pitch to Listener’s Attention
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Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   February 01, 2018
Study Links Speaker’s Voice Pitch to Listener’s Attention
The ASHA Leader, February 2018, Vol. 23, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.23022018.19
The ASHA Leader, February 2018, Vol. 23, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.23022018.19
Voice pitch may help listeners tune into specific conversations in a noisy environment, according to research from Imperial College London.
In the study, published in eLife, researchers observed the role of the auditory brainstem (located below the auditory cortex) in helping listeners with selective attention.

The researchers noted that the auditory brainstem was more responsive to the pitch of voice being listened to instead of the one being ignored.

Participants (16 total, ages 18–32) listened to two competing conversations and were instructed to pay attention to either the male or female speech sample. In a second round, researchers instructed participants to listen to the opposite voice. The experimenters fitted electrodes to participants’ heads that connected to a computer and measured the activity of neurons in the auditory brainstem.
The researchers noted that the auditory brainstem was more responsive to the pitch of voice being listened to than to the one being ignored.
“The pitch of the speaker’s voice we want to focus on is an important cue that is used in the auditory brainstem to focus on a target speaker,” says lead author Tobias Reichenbach. “This helps us to concentrate on a voice while filtering out all the background noise.”
The study authors hope their research may help with development of speech-recognition technologies and hearing aids that help patients with difficulty understanding speech in noise.
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February 2018
Volume 23, Issue 2