Valter Ciocca

Professor

Research Classification

Auditory System
Perception and Representation
Recognition of Speech
Speech and Language Development Disorders

Research Interests

Auditory grouping of speech and non-speech sounds, also known as "auditory scene analysis"
perception and production of normal and disordered speech

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Research Methodology

auditory psychophysics
acoustic analysis
sound synthesis and editing software and equipment

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Doctoral students
Any time / year round

Auditory scene analysis; perception and production of disordered speech

I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Auditory perceived continuity in cochlear implant listeners (2012)

Cochlear implants are generally considered the most successful of all sensory neural prostheses currently in use (Wilson and Dorman, 2008). Investigation of auditory perception with cochlear implants is important for developing effective and evidence-based approaches for intervention and management of profound hearing loss. Various phenomena of auditory perception have begun to be explored with cochlear implant users. However, perception of a phenomenon that allows listeners to perceptually restore the continuity of sounds that are partially masked or interrupted by other sounds (“auditory induction” or “auditory continuity”) has not yet been investigated in a group of listeners with cochlear implants. In the current study a group of 10 listeners with cochlear implants and 10 control listeners with normal-hearing provided judgments on the continuity of a pure tone signal in the presence of four levels of a narrow-band noise masker. The group of listeners with cochlear implants reported perception of auditory continuity, but did so for lower levels of the masker when compared to the normal-hearing control group. A secondary experiment investigated simultaneous masking in listeners with cochlear implants using the same masker levels used in the continuity experiment. The cochlear implant group displayed effective masking at a lower level than the normal-hearing control group, the same level at which auditory continuity was perceived in the first experiment. The differences observed between the two groups may be attributable to the greater effects of masking resulting from poorer frequency resolution, lack of temporal fine structure information and reduced dynamic range for users of cochlear implants compared with listeners with normal-hearing.

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The effects of topic title on language comprehension and working memory resources (2010)

This study was designed to explore the effects of topic title and simulated high frequency hearing loss on language comprehension by normal, healthy adults. Thirty-two adult participants with no history of cognitive deficits participated in this study. Each participant listened to four different passages in four different conditions. The four conditions were: (1) title with normal hearing, (2) title with simulated high frequency hearing loss, (3) no title with normal hearing and (4) no title with simulated high frequency hearing loss. Passages were presented segment-by-segment using the auditory moving window technique; most segments were short sentences or clauses. Participants listened to each segment at their own pace by pressing a key. Pause times between segments and overall listening time were recorded for each passage. After listening to each passage, participants were asked to recall out loud what they understood and remembered from the passage. Recall was transcribed and percentages of recalled propositions were calculated. In order to observe changes in processing across a passage, mean pause duration values were also compared across passage position (beginning, middle and end of a passage). The results showed that topic titles facilitated listening comprehension, as shown through better recall performance and reduced processing time. The knowledge of topic titles also reduced the time required for processing information at the beginning of the passage, showing that the knowledge of topic titles facilitates the building of mental representations. The simulated high frequency hearing loss condition did not prove to consistently tax working memory resources during language comprehension. The findings also provided evidence about the relationship between working memory ability and recall performance. Overall, these findings are consistent with the predictions of current language comprehension models.

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