LifeLUCID Corpus: Recordings of Speakers Aged 8 to 85 Years Engaged in Interactive Task in the Presence of Energetic and Informational Masking, 2017-2020

Tuomainen, Outi and Taschenberger, Linda and Hazan, Valerie (2021). LifeLUCID Corpus: Recordings of Speakers Aged 8 to 85 Years Engaged in Interactive Task in the Presence of Energetic and Informational Masking, 2017-2020. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-854350

Our ability to communicate successfully with others can be strongly affected by the presence of noise and other voices in the environment, and children and older adults are more greatly affected than young adults in these situations. Even greater disruption is experienced for populations with hearing or language impairments, or even healthy adults who are non-native speakers. Some of the disruption is due to physical masking by interfering sounds (energetic masking EM) but if the disrupting sound can be understood, this also causes further difficulty (informational masking IM). Previous work suggests that informational masking causes relatively more disruption for children and older adults than for young adults but these findings are based on laboratory tests that are far from realistic communication. Although the impact of adverse conditions on speech communication has been the object of studies in different age groups, no study to date has taken a full lifespan view, looking at the relative impact of IM and EM on participants aged from 8 to 85 using a common experimental design. Also, many studies have focused on the impact of EM and IM on speech perception using recorded sentences or words; this ignores the fact that speakers make dynamic adaptations in speech communication to counter the effects of masking. We evaluate the impact of adverse conditions in an interactive task using measures reflecting speech communication efficiency (e.g., task transaction time, rate of dysfluencies). Finally, there is little evidence to date as to whether laboratory-based evaluations reflect the level of difficulty experienced in everyday life. The proposed project will, for the first time, relate evaluations of speech communication difficulties in adverse listening conditions as measured in the laboratory with real-life ratings of difficulty collected in real time over a two week period. It will also test whether primarily informational masking causes greater interference for some age groups (e.g. children, older adults), and if the underlying reasons for the interference differ between children and adults. In Study 1, 120 individuals aged 8 to 85 yrs will be tested in pairs while they carry out a problem-solving task in conditions varying in the degree of informational and energetic masking present. A secondary task will be added to make the task more cognitively demanding, thus reflecting real-life multitasking situations. Baseline measures of hearing, speech perception and cognitive function and a standardised questionnaire of auditory disability (SSQ) will also be collected. In Study 2, the same participants will be asked to report perceived communication difficulty and their listening environment on 6-7 occasions per day during a 2-week period using a smartphone-based app. Data from this study will be related to measures of communication effectiveness and SSQ data collected in Study 1. This project will lead to a better understanding of how the impact of adverse listening conditions changes across the lifespan, of the relative effects of IM and EM in different age groups, evaluated in realistic communicative conditions, and of the true ecological validity of laboratory-based evaluations. It will also provide normative data for a set of acoustic-phonetic measures across a 8-85 year age range. This benchmark will be of use for practitioners such as speech and language therapists and audiologists who work on aspects of communication with individuals of all ages. Importantly, this research will also contribute to our basic understanding of speech perception and production development across the lifespan.

Data description (abstract)

This speech corpus contains recordings for 104 monolingual native southern British English speakers aged between 8 and 85 years old while they engaged in a problem-solving picture-based ‘spot the difference’ task (Diapix) with a conversational partner in four listening conditions. In NORM (quiet, no masking), participants heard each other normally. In SPSN (speech-shaped noise), participants communicated in speech shaped noise at an approximate signal-to-noise ratio of 0 dB. In IMRE (informational masking related picture), they communicated while three voices in the background talked about the same picture. In IMUR (information masking unrelated picture), they communicated while three voices in the background talked about a different Diapix picture. Participants were recorded in sex and age band matched pairs; they were unfamiliar with one another. They were seated in separate sound-treated booths and communicated via headphones. One participant in the pair took the lead in the interaction and participants switched roles, each completing four conditions in each role. For each recording, there is a stereo audio file (.wav format) with each participant on a separate channel and two textgrid files, with time-aligned orthographic transcripts for each of the participants.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Tuomainen Outi UCL
Taschenberger Linda UCL
Hazan Valerie UCL
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/P002803/1
Topic classification: Psychology
Project title: Speech masking effects in speech communication across the lifespan
Grant holders: Valerie Hazan, Outi Tuomainen, Stuart Rosen
Project dates:
1 June 201731 May 2020
Date published: 06 May 2021 14:02
Last modified: 06 May 2021 14:02

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