This study examined the changes that occur in spontaneous speech when speakers are distracted by background audio. Forty young adults answered open ended questions under five audio conditions (pink noise, movie dialogue, heated debate, classical music, and contemporary music) and a silent condition. Acoustic parameters assessed during the sessions included mean and variability of the fundamental frequency (F0), mean and variability of intensity, speaking time ratio, and disfluency ratio. It was hypothesized that there would be significant increases in the mean and variability of F0 as well as the mean and variability of intensity. There were statistically significant increases in mean and variability of intensity and mean F0 across most audio conditions. There were no significant changes in variability of intensity in the pink noise condition and no significant changes in variability of F0 in any audio condition. We hypothesized that the speaking time ratio would decrease in the presence of background audio compared to the silent baseline. Results demonstrate significant increases in speaking time ratio except for the classical music condition. It was expected that the disfluency ratio of speech production for each participant would increase in the presence of background audio, with informational masking demonstrating the most increase. Results revealed a significant increase in disfluency ratios across background audio conditions except for the pink noise and classical music conditions. Participants reported the heated debate and contemporary music to be the most distracting. These results have potential clinical implications regarding the type of environment where therapy is given, and what type of everyday situations might cause the most difficulties with fluency as well as the processing and production of speech.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





audio, acoustics, speech, distraction, selective attention



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Education Commons