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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 25  |  Page : 11--21

Effects of reverberation time on the cognitive load in speech communication : Theoretical considerations

University of Gävle, Centre for Built Environment, Gävle, Sweden

Correspondence Address:
A Kjellberg
University of Gävle, Centre for Built Environment, S-801 76 Gävle
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 15703145

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The paper presents a theoretical analysis of possible effects of reverberation time on the cognitive load in speech communication. Speech comprehension requires not only phonological processing of the spoken words. Simultaneously, this information must be further processed and stored. All this processing takes place in the working memory, which has a limited processing capacity. The more resources that are allocated to word identification, the fewer resources are therefore left for the further processing and storing of the information. Reverberation conditions that allow the identification of almost all words may therefore still interfere with speech comprehension and memory storing. These problems are likely to be especially serious in situations where speech has to be followed continuously for a long time. An unfavorable reverberation time (RT) then could contribute to the development of cognitive fatigue, which means that working memory resources are gradually reduced. RT may also affect the cognitive load in two other ways: RT may change the distracting effects of a sound and a person's mood. Both effects could influence the cognitive load of a listener. It is argued that we need studies of RT effects in realistic long-lasting listening situations to better understand the effect of RT on speech communication. Furthermore, the effect of RT on distraction and mood need to be better understood.


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