Influence of musical training on understanding voiced and whispered speech in noise

Dorea R. Ruggles, Richard L. Freyman, Andrew J. Oxenham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This study tested the hypothesis that the previously reported advantage of musicians over non-musicians in understanding speech in noise arises from more efficient or robust coding of periodic voiced speech, particularly in fluctuating backgrounds. Speech intelligibility was measured in listeners with extensive musical training, and in those with very little musical training or experience, using normal (voiced) or whispered (unvoiced) grammatically correct nonsense sentences in noise that was spectrally shaped to match the long-term spectrum of the speech, and was either continuous or gated with a 16-Hz square wave. Performance was also measured in clinical speech-in-noise tests and in pitch discrimination. Musicians exhibited enhanced pitch discrimination, as expected. However, no systematic or statistically significant advantage for musicians over non-musicians was found in understanding either voiced or whispered sentences in either continuous or gated noise. Musicians also showed no statistically significant advantage in the clinical speech-in-noise tests. Overall, the results provide no evidence for a significant difference between young adult musicians and non-musicians in their ability to understand speech in noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere86980
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 28 2014

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of musical training on understanding voiced and whispered speech in noise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this