Effects of face masks on acoustic analysis and speech perception: Implications for peri-pandemic protocols
AuthorMagee, M; Lewis, C; Noffs, G; Reece, H; Chan, J; Zaga, C; Paynter, C; Birchall, O; Azocar, SR; Ediriweera, A; ...
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory
AffiliationMelbourne School of Health Sciences
Audiology and Speech Pathology
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsMagee, M., Lewis, C., Noffs, G., Reece, H., Chan, J., Zaga, C., Paynter, C., Birchall, O., Azocar, S. R., Ediriweera, A., Caverlé, M., Schultz, B. & Vogel, A. (2020). Effects of face masks on acoustic analysis and speech perception: Implications for peri-pandemic protocols. pp.2020.10.06.327452-. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.06.327452.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLhttps://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.06.327452v1
NHMRC Grant codeNHMRC/1133541
<h4>ABSTRACT</h4> Wearing face masks (alongside physical distancing) provides some protection against infection from COVID-19. Face masks can also change how we communicate and subsequently affect speech signal quality. Here we investigated how three face mask types (N95, surgical and cloth) affect acoustic analysis of speech and perceived intelligibility in healthy subjects. We compared speech produced with and without the different masks on acoustic measures of timing, frequency, perturbation and power spectral density. Speech clarity was also examined using a standardized intelligibility tool by blinded raters. Mask type impacted the power distribution in frequencies above 3kHz for both the N95 and surgical masks. Measures of timing and spectral tilt also differed across mask conditions. Cepstral and harmonics to noise ratios remained flat across mask type. No differences were observed across conditions for word or sentence intelligibility measures. Our data show that face masks change the speech signal, but some specific acoustic features remain largely unaffected (e.g., measures of voice quality) irrespective of mask type. Outcomes have bearing on how future speech studies are run when personal protective equipment is worn.
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