Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Experimental Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Zahorik, Pavel

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

DeMarco, Paul

Committee Member

DeMarco, Paul

Committee Member

Kondaurova, Maria

Committee Member

Miller, Sharon

Committee Member

Stilp, Christian

Author's Keywords

binaural hearing; reverberation; hearing impairment; psychoacoustics; Heuser hearing institute; University of Louisville


This dissertation is a quantitative and qualitative examination of how young normal hearing and young hearing-impaired listeners perceive reverberation. A primary complaint among hearing-impaired listeners is difficulty understanding speech in noisy or reverberant environments. This work was motivated by a desire to better understand reverberation perception and processing so that this knowledge might be used to improve outcomes for hearing-impaired listeners in these environments. This dissertation is written in six chapters. Chapter One is an introduction to the field and a review of the relevant literature. Chapter Two describes a motivating experiment from laboratory work completed before the dissertation. This experiment asked human subjects to rate the amount of reverberation they perceived in a sound relative to another sound. This experiment showed a significant effect of listening condition on how listeners made their judgments. Chapter Three follows up on this experiment, seeking a better understanding of how listeners perform the task in Chapter Two. Chapter Three shows that listeners can use limited information to make their judgments. Chapter Four compares reverberation perception in normal hearing and hearing-impaired listeners and examines the effect of speech intelligibility on reverberation perception. This experiment finds no significant differences between cues used by normal hearing and hearing-impaired listeners when judging perceptual aspects of reverberation. Chapter Five describes and uses a quantitative model to examine the results of Chapters Two and Four. Chapter Six summarizes the data presented in the dissertation and discusses potential implications and future directions. This work finds that the perceived amount of reverberation relies primarily on two factors: 1) the listening condition (i.e., binaural, monaural, or a listening condition in which reverberation is present only in one ear) and 2) the sum of reverberant energy present at the two ears. Listeners do not need the reverberant tail to estimate perceived amount of reverberation, meaning that listeners are able to extract information about reverberation from the ongoing signal. The precise mechanism underlying this process is not explicitly found in this work; however, a potential framework is presented in Chapter Six.