Perception of amplitude envelope variations of pulsatile electrotactile stimuli

P. J. Blamey, J. l. Alcantara, R. S C Cowan, K. L. Galvin, J. Z. Sarant, G. M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Gross variations of the speech amplitude envelope, such as the duration of different segments and the gaps between them, carry information about prosody and some segmental features of vowels and consonants. The amplitude envelope is one parameter encoded by the Tickle Talker, an electrotactile speech processor for the hearing impaired which stimulates the digital nerve bundles with a pulsatile electric current. Psychophysical experiments measuring the duration discrimination and identification, gap detection, and integration times for pulsatile electrical stimulation are described and compared with similar auditory measures for normal and impaired hearing and electrical stimulation via a cochlear implant. The tactile duration limen of 15% for a 300-ms standard was similar to auditory measures. Tactile gap detection thresholds of 9 to 20 ms were larger than for normal-hearing but shorter than for some hearing-impaired listeners and cochlear implant users. The electrotactile integration time of about 250 ms was shorter than previously measured tactile values but longer than auditory integration times. The results indicate that the gross amplitude envelope variations should be conveyed well by the Tickle Talker. Short bursts of low amplitude are the features most likely to be poorly perceived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1765-1772
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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