J Am Acad Audiol 2017; 28(01): 068-079
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.15154
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Interrupted Monosyllabic Words: The Effects of Ten Interruption Locations on Recognition Performance by Older Listeners with Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Richard H. Wilson
*   VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN; and East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
Kadie C. Sharrett
*   VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN; and East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
26 June 2020 (online)



Two previous experiments from our laboratory with 70 interrupted monosyllabic words demonstrated that recognition performance was influenced by the temporal location of the interruption pattern. The interruption pattern (10 interruptions/sec, 50% duty cycle) was always the same and referenced word onset; the only difference between the patterns was the temporal location of the on- and off-segments of the interruption cycle. In the first study, both young and older listeners obtained better recognition performances when the initial on-segment coincided with word onset than when the initial on-segment was delayed by 50 msec. The second experiment with 24 young listeners detailed recognition performance as the interruption pattern was incremented in 10-msec steps through the 0- to 90-msec onset range. Across the onset conditions, 95% of the functions were either flat or U-shaped.


To define the effects that interruption pattern locations had on word recognition by older listeners with sensorineural hearing loss as the interruption pattern incremented, re: word onset, from 0 to 90 msec in 10-msec steps.

Research Design:

A repeated-measures design with ten interruption patterns (onset conditions) and one uninterruption condition.

Study Sample:

Twenty-four older males (mean = 69.6 yr) with sensorineural hearing loss participated in two 1-hour sessions. The three-frequency pure-tone average was 24.0 dB HL and word recognition was ≥80% correct.

Data Collection and Analyses:

Seventy consonant-vowel nucleus-consonant words formed the corpus of materials with 25 additional words used for practice. For each participant, the 700 interrupted stimuli (70 words by 10 onset conditions), the 70 words uninterrupted, and two practice lists each were randomized and recorded on compact disc in 33 tracks of 25 words each.


The data were analyzed at the participant and word levels and compared to the results obtained earlier on 24 young listeners with normal hearing. The mean recognition performance on the 70 words uninterrupted was 91.0% with an overall mean performance on the ten interruption conditions of 63.2% (range: 57.9–69.3%), compared to 80.4% (range: 73.0–87.7%) obtained earlier on the young adults. The best performances were at the extremes of the onset conditions. Standard deviations ranged from 22.1% to 28.1% (24 participants) and from 9.2% to 12.8% (70 words). An arithmetic algorithm categorized the shapes of the psychometric functions across the ten onset conditions. With the older participants in the current study, 40% of the functions were flat, 41.4% were U-shaped, and 18.6% were inverted U-shaped, which compared favorably to the function shapes by the young listeners in the earlier study of 50.0%, 41.4%, and 8.6%, respectively. There were two words on which the older listeners had 40% better performances.


Collectively, the data are orderly, but at the individual word or participant level, the data are somewhat volatile, which may reflect auditory processing differences between the participant groups. The diversity of recognition performances by the older listeners on the ten interruption conditions with each of the 70 words supports the notion that the term hearing loss is inclusive of processes well beyond the filtering produced by end-organ sensitivity deficits.

This work was supported in part by the Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, Department of Veterans Affairs through the Auditory and Vestibular Dysfunction Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP) at Mountain Home.

Portions of this work were presented at the annual convention of the American Auditory Society in Scottsdale, AZ, March 3–5, 2016.

The contents of this paper do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Government.

Richard H. Wilson is now affiliated with Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.


  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 2010. Specification for Audiometers. ANSI S3.6 2004 . New York, NY: ANSI;
  • Cherry EC. 1953; Some experiments on the recognition of speech, with one and with two ears. J Acoust Soc Am 25 (05) 975-979
  • Department of Veterans Affairs 2010. Speech Recognition and Identification Materials. Disc 4.0. Mountain Home, TN: VA Medical Center;
  • Dirks DD, Wilson RH, Bower DR. 1969; Effect of pulsed masking on selected speech materials. J Acoust Soc Am 46 (4B) 898-906
  • Grosjean F. 1980; Spoken word recognition processes and the gating paradigm. Percept Psychophys 28 (04) 267-283
  • Howard-Jones PA, Rosen S. 1993; Uncomodulated glimpsing in “checkerboard” noise. J Acoust Soc Am 93 (05) 2915-2922
  • Huggins AWF. 1964; Distortion of the temporal pattern of speech: interruption and alternation. J Acoust Soc Am 36 (06) 1055-1064
  • Kidd GR, Humes LE. 2012; Effects of age and hearing loss on the recognition of interrupted words in isolation and in sentences. J Acoust Soc Am 131 (02) 1434-1448
  • Miller GA. 1947; The masking of speech. Psychol Bull 44 (02) 105-129
  • Miller GA, Heise GA, Lichten W. 1951; The intelligibility of speech as a function of the context of the test materials. J Exp Psychol 41 (05) 329-335
  • Miller GA, Licklider JCR. 1950; The intelligibility of interrupted speech. J Acoust Soc Am 22 (02) 167-173
  • Powers GL, Speaks C. 1973; Intelligibility of temporally interr upted speech. J Acoust Soc Am 54 (03) 661-667
  • Studebaker GA. 1985; A “rationalized” arcsine transform. J Speech Hear Res 28 (03) 455-462
  • Tillman TW, Carhart R. (1966) An expanded test for speech discrimination utilizing CNC monosyllabic words. Northwestern University auditory test no. 6. Technical report no. SAM-TR-66-55. Brooks Air Force Base, TX: USAF School of Aerospace Medicine.
  • Wang X, Humes LE. 2010; Factors influencing recognition of interrupted speech. J Acoust Soc Am 128 (04) 2100-2111
  • Wilson RH. 2014; Variables that influence the recognition performance of interrupted words: rise-fall shape and temporal location of the interruptions. J Am Acad Audiol 25 (07) 688-696
  • Wilson RH, Carhart R. 1969; Influence of pulsed masking on the threshold for spondees. J Acoust Soc Am 46 (4B) 998-1010
  • Wilson RH, Hamm HM. 2015; Recognition performance of interrupted monosyllabic words: the effects of ten interruption locations. J Am Acad Audiol 26 (07) 670-677
  • Wilson RH, Irish SE. 2015; Recognition performance on words interrupted (10 ips, 50% duty cycle) with two interruption patterns referenced to word onset: young listeners with normal hearing for pure tones and older listeners with sensorineural hearing loss. Int J Audiol 54 (12) 933-941
  • Wilson RH, McArdle R, Betancourt MB, Herring K, Lipton T, Chisolm TH. 2010; Word-recognition performance in interrupted noise by young listeners with normal hearing and older listeners with hearing loss. J Am Acad Audiol 21 (02) 90-109