Auditory & Speech Sciences Laboratory


Auditory & Speech Sciences Laboratory - NEWS

July 14, 2017: Farewell Dr. Mark Skowronski.

Dr. Skowronski, a researcher and member of the lab since March 2015, will be transitioning to a new position outside of academia. His skills and expertise in signal processing are taking him to the next stage of his career, but will be greatly missed in the lab. Best of luck, Mark!!!

June 5, 2017: Welcome Dr. Kate Wadlinger, Dr. Mitch Aquilina, & Dr. Jennifer Aranda-Cordero!

We are pleased to welcome three new members to our team. Dr. Wadlinger, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, is one of our newest research audiologists. Dr. Aquilina, who received his Au.D. from the University of Florida, is also a research audiologist. In addition, Dr. Aranda, also a UF graduate, is enrolled in the Ph.D. program under the direction of Drs. Dave and Ann Eddins. Welcome to the ASSL!

April 3, 2017: Dr. Hoover: Dissertation study now in print!

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Hoover, ASSL postdoctoral fellow, on the publication of his primary dissertation study in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology! The manuscript is entitled, "Auditory and Cognitive Factors Associated with Speech-in-Noise Complaints following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury."

In this study, Dr. Hoover, and his coauthors and dissertation advisors, Pamela Souza, Ph.D. CCC-A and Frederick (Erick) Gallun, Ph.D., tested the hypothesis that speech-in-noise complaints following mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) are due to deficits in temporal coding in the auditory system. This hypothesis counters the prevailing claim that auditory deficits after TBI are a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects hearing through top-down mechanisms such as memory and attention. To test this hypothesis, they recruited participants with a history of mild TBI and compared them to age- and hearing-matched controls with no history of injury on a battery of auditory and cognitive tests. Consistent with previous studies, participants in the mild TBI group were more likely to perform poorly relative to controls on auditory tasks. Results showed that subjective speech-in-noise complaints were consistent with objective tests of both monaural and binaural speech understanding in noise. The findings were consistent with the general hypothesis that auditory complaints following mild TBI are related to dysfunction specific to bottom-up auditory processes, but more work will be needed to evaluate the role of temporal coding.

In the Auditory & Speech Sciences Laboratory, Dr. Hoover continues work in the area of auditory rehabilitation following TBI. This work includes the development of a portable, rapid assessment battery for use in research and clinical settings in collaboration with Dr. Gallun at the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University as well as Dr. Aaron Seitz at the University of California, Riverside. This work is supported by a translational R01 from the National Institutes of Health. In addition to the assessment of auditory deficits following TBI, the Auditory & Speech Sciences Laboratory is partnered with Creare, Inc. in the development and validation of a rehabilitation program targeting this population. This work is supported by a contract from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

October 3, 2016: World Congress of Audiology

ASSL co-directors, Drs. David and Ann Eddins, recently attended the 33rd World Congress of Audiology, a biennial meeting of the International Society of Audiology. The conference was held in Vancouver, Canada from September 18-21. Bringing together top hearing scientists from over 40 countries, the WCA provided opportunities to collaborate and enhance knowledge for future clinical practices and research endeavors. With 28 feature sessions and over 200 contributed talks and posters, the meeting was a great success!

Dr. Ann Eddins' feature sessions included two presentations: "Relating perceptual deficits in older adults to dynamic changes in cortical processing" and "Beyond the audiogram: Characterizing clinical attributes of the genetics of age-related hearing loss." Dr. David Eddins presented, "Waves of the future: automated and remote audiologic service delivery" during his feature session. 

More information about the World Congress of Audiology can be found here.

August 23, 2016: Welcome, Dr. Supraja Anand!

The ASSL welcomes Dr. Supraja Anand to USF! Dr. Anand is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. In collaboration with Drs. David Eddins and Mark Skowronski, she investigates dysphonic voice quality perception. Dr. Supraja Anand earned her undergraduate and master's degrees in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders from All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, India, and a Ph.D. in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from University of Florida, Gainesville. Her prior research/teaching experience includes a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University and a 2 year stint as an Assistant Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on examining the effects of aging and neuromotor diseases (e.g. Parkinson's disease) on speech and voice characteristics.

June 17, 2016: A new project is underway at the ASSL!

For the vast majority of people with hearing loss, treatment decisions are based primarily on a basic audiological assessment including case history, otoscopy, evaluation of middle ear status, and hearing thresholds or audiogram. The audiogram measures the performance of the auditory system at the threshold of hearing, but the sounds that are important in people's lives are often at much higher levels. The most common auditory complaint is difficulty understanding speech in a noisy environment, such as a family gathering. The goal of this project is to develop auditory assessments that measure how listeners are able to encode and process sounds that are clearly audible. The development of these new assessments leverages our current understanding of auditory neuroscience, computational modeling, and psychoacoustics to create efficient tests for clinical diagnosis. The new test battery will expanding our understanding of central auditory dysfunction and support novel diagnostic and treatment approaches.

The project consists of four stages. In the first stage, psychometric properties of various laboratory measures will be assessed to determine the best assessment of a given dysfunction and the most efficient method to administer each test on a table device platform. The second stage consists of the development of an application platform for tablet computers, supporting the controlled administration of a battery of tests in a variety of experimental and clinical environments. Stage three consists of the evaluation of each test in the battery on a large number of young listeners with healthy hearing. This will establish normative ranges for each test and provide data that will be useful in computational models of auditory processing. Finally, stage four consists of the deployment of the assessment battery in two groups of listeners for whom the audiogram is a poor predictor of difficulty understanding speech in a noisy environment: older patients and those with a history of traumatic brain injury.

The long-term goal of this research is to bridge the gap between current theory in auditory neuroscience and clinical standard of care by creating tests that efficiently characterize central auditory dysfunction. Information gained in this study will be used as a foundation for the development and evaluation of novel treatments and provide a platform for large-scale clinical research projects.

February 2, 2016: Recently published articles by the ASSL team!

Ozmeral, E.J., Eddins, A.C., Frisina, D.R., Eddins, D.A. (2016). "Large cross-sectional study of presbycusis reveals rapid progressive decline in auditory temporal acuity," Neurobiology of Aging.

The auditory system relies on extraordinarily precise timing cues for the accurate perception of speech, music, and object identification. Epidemiological research has documented the age-related progressive decline in hearing sensitivity that is known to be a major health concern for the elderly. While smaller investigations indicate that auditory temporal processing also declines with age, such measures have not been included in larger studies. Temporal gap detection thresholds (TGDTs; an index of auditory temporal resolution) measured in 1071 listeners (18 to 98 years of age) were shown to decline at a minimum rate of 1.05 ms (15%) per decade. Age was a significant predictor of TGDT when controlling for audibility (partial correlation) and when restricting analyses to persons with normal hearing sensitivity (n = 434). The TDGTs were significantly better for males (3.5 ms; 51%) than females when averaged across the life span. These results highlight the need for indices of temporal processing in diagnostics, as treatment targets, and as factors in models of aging.

Eddins, D.A., Anand, S., Camacho, A., Shrivastav, R. (2016). "Modeling of Breathy Voice Quality Using Pitch Strength Estimates," Journal of Voice. doi:10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.11.016. Click for article.

Background: The characteristic voice quality of a speaker conveys important linguistic, paralinguistic, and vocal health-related information. Pitch strength refers to the salience of pitch sensation in a sound and was recently reported to be strongly correlated with the magnitude of perceived breathiness based on a small number of voice stimuli.
Objective: The current study examined the relationship between perceptual judgments of breathiness and computational estimates of pitch strength based on the Aud-SWIPE (P-NP) algorithm for a large number of voice stimuli (330 synthetic and 57 natural).
Methods and Results: Similar to the earlier study, the current results confirm a strong relationship between estimated pitch strength and listener judgments of breathiness such that low pitch-strength values are associated with voices that have high perceived breathiness. Based on this result, a model was developed for the perception of breathy voice quality using a pitch-strength estimator. Regression functions derived between the pitch-strength estimates and perceptual judgments of breathiness obtained from matching task revealed a linear relationship for a subset of the natural stimuli. We then used this function to obtain predicted breathiness values for the synthetic and the remaining natural stimuli.
Conclusions: Predicted breathiness values from our model were highly correlated with the perceptual data for both types of stimuli. Systematic differences between the breathiness of natural and synthetic stimuli are discussed.

January 19, 2016: New Au.D. Students Join Research Projects

Doctor of Audiology students, Brianna Kinney, and Kelsey Harris have recently joined the ASSL lab as research assistants. They will be mentored by Dr. Ozmeral, Dr. Hoover, and Drs. Eddins throughout the completion of their Audiology Doctoral Project, a requirement for earning the Doctor of Audiology degree from the University of South Florida.

December 23, 2015: The ASSL team has a new publication (online first) in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America!

Eddins, D. A., Kopf, L. M., Shrivastav, R. (2015). "The psychophysics of roughness applied to dysphonic voice," J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 138, 6. doi: 10.1121/1.4937753. Click for article.

Roughness is a sound quality that has been related to the amplitude modulation characteristics of the acoustic stimulus. Roughness also is considered one of the primary elements of voice quality associated with natural variations across normal voices and is a salient feature of many dysphonic voices. It is known that the roughness of tonal stimuli is dependent on the frequency and depth of amplitude modulation and on the carrier frequency. Here, it is determined if similar dependencies exist for voiced speech stimuli. Knowledge of such dependencies can lead to a better understanding of the acoustic characteristics of vocal roughness along the continuum of normal to dysphonic and may facilitate computational estimates of vocal roughness.Synthetic vowel stimuli were modeled after talkers selected from the Satloff/Heman-Ackah disordered voice database. To parametrically control amplitude modulation frequency and depth, synthesized stimuli had minimal amplitude fluctuations, and amplitude modulation was superimposed with the desired frequency and depth. Perceptual roughness judgments depended on amplitude modulation frequency and depth in a manner that closely matched data from tonal carriers. The dependence of perceived roughness on amplitude modulation frequency and depth closely matched the roughness of sinusoidal carriers as reported by Fastl and Zwicker [(2007) Psychoacoustics: Facts and Models, 3rd ed. (Springer, New York)].

October 26, 2015: Conference Presentations: ASC & CAA 2015

ASSL co-directors, David A. Eddins and Ann C. Eddins, were invited to speak at the Indiana University Aging and Speech Communication Research Conference and the Canadian Academy of Audiology Annual Conference and Exhibition this month!

ASC 2015

CAA 2015

 July 23, 2015: Farewell to Arianna!

We bid farewell to Arianna Vera Rodriguez as she embarks on a new chapter in her education. She will be moving to Texas to pursue a Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Texas at Austin. After serving for 3 years in the lab as an undergraduate at USF, her skills and experience will be sorely missed.
Best wishes Arianna!!!


July 20, 2015: New Au.D. Students Join Research Projects

The following Doctor of Audiology students have recently joined the ASSL lab as research assistants: Samuel Bernhisel, Patricia Gabbidon, and Spruha Mahapatra. They will be mentored by Dr. Ozmeral, Dr. Hoover, and Drs. Eddins throughout the completion of their capstone research projects, a requirement for earning the Doctor of Audiology degree from the University.

May 9, 2015: Dr. David Eddins Named UNC Distinguished Alumnus

Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Dr. David A. Eddins (UNC MS Audiology Class of '88) was honored by the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences as a Distinguished Alumnus at their annual graduation ceremony at the William Friday Center on Saturday, May 9th 2015. He also delivered the commencement address during the ceremony. Dr. Eddins was introduced by a former undergraduate student at Indiana University and current UNC faculty member, Dr. Lauren Calandruccio. Dr. Eddins will be featured in the DSHS Summer 2015 Newsletter. Dr. Eddins noted the following:

"It was a thrill to receive this honor from my alma mater. I have been inspired by the terrific faculty in SHS. I developed a profound interest in speech and hearing as a UNC undergraduate student and a passion for research as a UNC graduate student. I can trace my professional roots to the program founders and continue to be inspired by current SHS faculty and students. Like UNC athletics, the UNC SHS tradition is strong and means a lot to me."

April 9, 2015: Dr. Eric Hoover Review Article Published

A review article written by our own Eric Hoover, along with Pamela E. Souza, and Frederick J. Gallun titled Competing Views on Abnormal Auditory Results After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, was published in the April edition of the ASHA Publication SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, April 2015, Vol. 19, 12-21. doi:10.1044/hhd19.1.12

Traumatic brain injury affects the lives of millions of Americans. Within audiology, there is general agreement that mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) can result in long-term auditory processing deficits. However, this agreement is not shared across disciplines. In this paper, recent studies on the effects of MTBI on auditory function are reviewed in the context of competing opinions on the interpretation of neurosensory deficits after MTBI. Three hypotheses are presented that explain auditory test results as they relate to post-traumatic stress disorder, subtle cognitive deficits resulting from MTBI, and physiological damage to temporal processing in the auditory system.