Gender and vocal production mode discrimination using the high frequencies for speech and singing

Brian B. Monson, Andrew J. Lotto, Brad H. Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans routinely produce acoustical energy at frequencies above 6 kHz during vocalization, but this frequency range is often not represented in communication devices and speech perception research. Recent advancements toward high-definition (HD) voice and extended bandwidth hearing aids have increased the interest in the high frequencies. The potential perceptual information provided by high-frequency energy (HFE) is not well characterized. We found that humans can accomplish tasks of gender discrimination and vocal production mode discrimination (speech vs. singing) when presented with acoustic stimuli containing only HFE at both amplified and normal levels. Performance in these tasks was robust in the presence of low-frequency masking noise. No substantial learning effect was observed. Listeners also were able to identify the sung and spoken text (excerpts from “The Star-Spangled Banner”) with very few exposures. These results add to the increasing evidence that the high frequencies provide at least redundant information about the vocal signal, suggesting that its representation in communication devices (e.g., cell phones, hearing aids, and cochlear implants) and speech/voice synthesizers could improve these devices and benefit normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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