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Details for Test of Basic Auditory Capabilities (TBAC)

In response to the query from Nikki Rikard, the TBAC was originally developed in 1982, but was only described in a couple of abstracts.  We hesitated to publish our findings at the time.  While the most interesting result was the low correlations between speech recognition and measures of spectral-temporal acuity,  the TBAC speech measures were insufficient to support any strong conclusion about there being distinct auditory abilities for processing speech and nonspeech stimuli.  Quite a bit later, Aimee Surprenant and I extended the TBAC to include several additional speech tests, got the same result, and did publish it.  Humes and Christopherson also ran some reliability tests on the TBAC and found it to be a relatively stable battery.  Most recently Kidd, Gygi and I  further extended the TBAC to include some other  psychoacoustic measures (gap detection, gap discrimination, SAM noises, ripple noise) and environmental sounds, and using factor analyses found speech and environmental sound recognition to be grouped in a common factor, while three other factors included various measures of spectral-temporal acuity…that work is under review.  Our general conclusion now is that a great deal of the variance in familiar sound recognition (we call it the “FSR Ability”) reflects not spectral-temporal acuity, but the ability to recognize auditory wholes on the basis of fragments…some listeners need more fragments than others.   Grossly deficient spectral or temporal acuity, as in the case of some hearing impaired listeners or by normals listening to vocoded speech, is of course going to reduce recognition performance.  But the great majority of listeners with normal audiograms have sufficient spectral-temporal acuity that their recognition scores appear to be limited by their FSR skills rather than by their differential acuity.  Among other things this means that speech is a dandy code,  since a considerable range of spectral and temporal resolving power has little impact on our ability to process it. 


Chuck Watson



Surprenant, A. M. and  Watson, C.S. (2001) Individual differences in the processing of speech            

               and nonspeech sounds by normal-hearing listeners.   J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 110, 2085-95.


Humes, L. E.  and Christopherson, L. A. (1992) Some Psychometric Properties of the Test of Basic Auditory Capabilities (TBAC) Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 35 929-935.