Fall 2016
  • Associate Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Research Statement

The degree to which speech communication is successful is affected by many variables. These include listener characteristics like hearing loss, environment characteristics like background noise, and message factors like linguistic complexity. Talker factors also play an important role. Talker behaviors, like speaking more clearly, can help improve speech understanding, while certain talker characteristics, like being a non-native speaker of the target language, can make speech understanding more difficult for the listener. My research focuses on these talker factors and how they affect the everyday speech understanding abilities of older adults with hearing loss. Methods include both perceptual and acoustic analyses. My goal is to identify the acoustic characteristics that underlie speech understanding so that beneficial acoustic properties can be exploited and harmful ones can be ameliorated through signal processing or by training talkers to produce more intelligible speech.

Research Keywords

  • Talker differences
  • Speech perception
  • Older adults
  • Hearing loss
  • Foreign-accented speech

Presentations

  • Hunter, E., & Ferguson, S.H. (2018, November). The aging voice: Perceived age & voice quality. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Boston, MA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2018.
  • Payne, B.R., Silcox, J., Lash, A., Ferguson, S.H., & Lohani, M. (2018, September). Assistive text captioning offsets the effects of background noise on speech memory and pupillometry. Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology Institute, Pittsburgh, PA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/2018.
  • Berardi, M.L., Staples, J.J., Ferguson, S.H., & Hunter, E.J. (2018, May). Speech formant changes due to repeated measurements, instruction, and simulated environments using both automated and manual feature extraction. 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2018.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Behrman, A., & Staples, J.J. (2018, May). The effect of clear speech on listener perception of nonnative speech. 175th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2018.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Hunter, E.J., & Staples, J.J. (2017, December). Acoustic features of spontaneous and read conversational and clear speech produced in simulated acoustic environments. 174th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, New Orleans, LA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 12/2017.
  • Berardi, M., Hunter, E.J., & Ferguson, S.H. (2017, June). Talker age estimation using machine learning. 173rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Boston, MA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/2017.
  • Morgan, S.D., Ferguson, S.H., & Hunter, E.J. (2017, June). Acoustic features and gender differences in clear and conversational speech produced in simulated environments. 173rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Boston, MA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/2017.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2016, September). Talker gender effects in the Ferguson Clear Speech Database. XXXIII World Congress of Audiology, Vancouver, British Columbia. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/2016.
  • Morgan, S.D., Jennings, S.G., & Ferguson, S.H. (2016, September). Perceived emotion in clear speech: Effects of aging and simulated hearing loss. Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/2016.
  • Champougny, C., Ferguson, S.H., & Schilaty, S. (2016, May). Intelligibility of British English for American younger and older adults with and without hearing loss. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Morgan, S.D., Jennings, S.G., & Ferguson, S.H. (2016, May). Perceived anger in clear speech: Effect of audibility. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Johnson, E.M, & Ferguson, S.H. (2016, May). Gender and rate effects on speech intelligibility. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Hunter, E.J., Ferguson, S.H., Leishman, T., Maxfield, L., Graetzer, S., & Bottalico, P. (2016, May). Gender differences and speech accommodation in occupational settings. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2016, May). Talker gender effects in the Ferguson Clear Speech Database. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Booz, J.A., & Ferguson, S.H. (2016, May). Perceived gender in clear and conversational speech. 171st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Salt Lake City, UT. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/2016.
  • Efremenkova, L., Behrman, A., & Ferguson, S.H. (2015, November). Effect of clear speech on vowel intelligibility spoken by Spanish-accented speakers of American English. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Denver, CO. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2015.
  • Morgan, S.D., & Ferguson, S.H. (2015, November). Perceived emotion in clear speech: Older adults with hearing loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Denver, CO. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2015.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Morgan, S.D. (2015, November). Acoustic and perceptual correlates of subjectively rated sentence clarity in clear and conversational speech. 170th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Jacksonville, FL. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2015.
  • Huberman, L., Volney, D., Behrman, A., & Ferguson, S.H. (2015, November). Does clear speech enhance intelligibility of Spanish-accented speakers of American English?. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Denver, CO. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/2015.
  • Morgan, S.D., & Ferguson, S.H. (2015, May). Perceived emotional valence in clear and conversational speech for older adults with hearing loss. 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pittsburgh, PA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2015.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2014, November). Vowels and source-filter theory. Monthly meeting of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Northern Utah Chapter. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/2014.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Rogers, L.R. (2014, October). Vowels in clear and conversational speech: Within-talker variability in acoustic characteristics. 168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Indianapolis, IN. Invited Talk/Keynote, Submitted, 06/2014.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Morgan, S.D., Rogers, L.R., & Hunter, E.J. (2014, May). Within-session stability of acoustic features of conversational and clear speech. 167th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Providence, RI. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2014.
  • Morgan, S.D., & Ferguson, S.H., (2014, May). Perceived emotional valence in clear and conversational speech. 167th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Providence, RI. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 05/2014.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2014, April). Changing statistics, changing stories: A tale of two studies. Faculty Research Presentation, Department of Linguistics, University of Utah. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/2014.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Hunter, E.J., Mellum, C.A., & Rogers, L.R. (2014, March). Listener judgments of age in a single-talker 48-year longitudinal sample. University of Utah Center on Aging 8th Annual Research Retreat. Presentation, Presented, 03/2014.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2013, November). Acoustic and perceptual characteristics of clear speech. Acoustics Research Group meeting, Brigham Young University. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/2013.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Hunter, E.J., Mellum, C.A., & Rogers, L.R. (2013, October). Listener judgments of age in a single-talker 48-year longitudinal sample. Aging and Speech Communication: An International and Interdisciplinary Conference, Bloomington, IN. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 10/2013.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Hunter, E.J., Mellum, C.A., & Rogers, L.R. (2013, June). Listener judgments of age in a single-talker 48-year longitudinal sample. 21st International Congress on Acoustics/165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Montreal, Canada. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/2013.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Quené, H. (2012, October). Acoustic correlates of vowel intelligibility in clear and conversational speech for young normal-hearing and elderly hearing-impaired listeners. 164th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Kansas City, MO. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 10/2012.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2012, September). Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Subjective ratings of sentence clarity. Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology Institute, Providence, RI. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/2012.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2012, September). The speech signal, hearing loss, and clear speech. Hearing Loss Association of Salt Lake City monthly meeting. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 09/2012.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Widener, T.D., & Mackey, T. (2011, May). Effects of talker experience on perceived clarity and acoustic features of clear versus conversational speech. 161st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Seattle, WA. Presentation, Other, 05/2011.
  • LaPierre, T.A., Ferguson, S.H., & Jiregna, M.M. (2010, November). How couples cope with hearing loss in later life: Lessons learned from a qualitative pilot study. Gerontological Society of American Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. Presentation, Other, 11/2010.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Kewley-Port, D. (2010, September). The role of duration in the clear speech vowel intelligibility benefit. 44th Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology Institute, San Francisco, CA. Presentation, Other, 09/2010.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2010, April). Acoustic correlates of clear speech vowel intelligibility for elderly hearing-impaired listeners. 159th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Baltimore, MD. Presentation, Other, 04/2010.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2009, November). Perception of foreign-accented speech by older adults. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, New Orleans, LA. Presentation, Other, 11/2009.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • GENDER DIFFERENCES AND SPEECH. PI: HUNTER,ERIC JAMES. Co-PI(s): FERGUSON,SARAH HARGUS. NIH NATL INST DEAF & OTHER COM, 04/12/2013 - 03/31/2018. Total project budget to date: $108,987.00

Publications

  • Sarah Hargus Ferguson & Shae D. Morgan (2018). Acoustic and perceptual correlates of subjectively rated sentence clarity in clear and conversational speech. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Vol. 61, 159-173. Published, 01/2018.
    https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-17-...
  • Alison Behrman, Sarah Hargus Ferguson, Ali Akhund & Mariola Moeyaert (2017). The effect of clear speech on temporal metrics of rhythm in Spanish-accented speakers of English. Language and Speech. 1-25. Published, 11/2017.
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/00238...
  • Shae D. Morgan & Sarah Hargus Ferguson (2017). Judgments of emotion in clear and conversational speech by young adults with normal hearing and older adults with hearing impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Vol. 60, 2271-2280. Published, 08/2017.
    https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-16-...
  • Eric J. Hunter & Sarah Hargus Ferguson (2017). Listener judgments of age in a single-talker, 50-year longitudinal sample. Journal of Communication Disorders. Vol. 68, 103-112. Published, 07/2017.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2017.06.001
  • Jensen, R.C., & Ferguson, S.H. (2015). Music perception in adult users of cochlear implants: A brief review. Perspectives on Aural Rehabilitation and Its Instrumentation, 22, 4-11. Published, 10/2015.
  • Hunter, E.J., Ferguson, S.H., & Newman, C.A. (2015). Listener estimations of talker age: A meta-analysis of the literature. Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, Early online, 1-5. Published, 06/2015.
  • Ferguson, S.H. & Quené, H. (2014) Acoustic correlates of vowel intelligibility in clear and conversational speech for young normal-hearing and elderly hearing-impaired listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, 3570-3584. Published, 06/2014.
  • Oder, A., Clopper, C.G., & Ferguson, S.H. Effects of dialect on vowel acoustics and intelligibility.Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43, 23-35. Published, 04/2013.
  • Lobdell, A., Dansie, J., & Ferguson, S.H. Cochlear implants: Five things we wish we had known. Perspectives on Aural Rehabilitation and Its Instrumentation, 20, 14-21. Published, 01/2013.
  • LaPierre, T. A., Ferguson, S. H., & Jiregna, M. M. (2012) Hearing loss in late life: How couples cope. Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, XLV, 75-97. Published, 12/2012.
  • Hunter, E.J., Ferguson, S.H., Mellum, C.A., & Rogers, L.R. Listener judgments of age in a single-talker 48-year longitudinal sample. Accepted for publication in Proceedings of Meetings in Acoustics. Accepted, 11/2012.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2012). Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Vowel intelligibility for listeners with hearing loss. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55, 779-790. Published, 06/2012.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Poore, M.A., & Shrivastav, R. (2010). Acoustic correlates of reported clear speech strategies. Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, 43, 45-64. Published, 12/2010.
  • Bent, T., Kewley-Port, D., & Ferguson, S.H. (2010). Across talker effects on non-native listeners' vowel perception in noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 3142-3151. Published, 11/01/2010.
  • Ferguson, S.H., Jongman, A., Sereno, J.A., & Keum, K.A. (2010). Intelligibility of foreign-accented speech for older adults with and without hearing loss. Journal of the American Acadamy of Audiology, 21, 153-62. Published, 03/01/2010.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Kerr, E.E. (2009). Subjective ratings of sentences in clear and conversational speech. Journal of the Acadamy of Rehabilitative Audiology, XLII, 51-66. Published, 01/01/2009.
  • Poore, M.A., & Ferguson, S.H. (2008). Methodological variables in choral reading. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 22, 13-24. Published, 01/01/2008.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Kewley-Port, D. (2007). Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Acoustic characteristics of vowels. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Reasearch, 50, 1241-1255. Published, 10/01/2007.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Lee, J. (2006). Vowel intelligibility in clear and conversational speech for cochlear implant users: A preliminary study. Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, XXXIX, 1-16. Published, 12/2006.
  • Ferguson, S.H. (2004). Talker differences in clear and conversational speech: Vowel intelligibility for normal-hearing listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 116, 2365-2373. Published, 10/01/2004.
  • Ferguson, S.H., & Kewley-Port, D. (2002). Vowel intelligibility in clear and conversational speech for normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 112, 259-271. Published, 07/01/2002.
  • Formby, C.C., Sherlock, L.P., & Ferguson, S.H. (2000). Enhancements of the edges of temporal masking functions by complex patterns of overshoot and undershoot. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 107, 2169-2187. Published, 04/01/2000.
  • Hargus, S.E., & Gordon-Salant, S. (1995). Accuracy of speech intelligibility index predictions for noise-masked young listeners with normal hearing and for elderly listeners with hearing impairment. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 234-243. Published, 01/01/1995.