ENRICH - Improving speech with respect to comprehensibility and cognitive effort

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Speech is a hugely efficient means of communication: a reduced capacity in listening or speaking creates a significant barrier to social inclusion at all points through the lifespan, in education, work and at home. Hearing aids and speech synthesis can help address this reduced capacity but their use imposes greater listener effort.

The fundamental objective of the ENRICH network is to modify or augment speech with additional information to make it easier to process. Enrichment aims to reduce the listening burden by minimising cognitive load, while maintaining or improving intelligibility.

Video: Enrich/Gerard Llorach


ENRICH will investigate the relationship between cognitive effort and different forms of natural and synthetic speech. Non-intrusive metrics for listening effort will be developed and used to design modification techniques which result in low-burden speech. The value of various enrichment approaches will be evaluated with individuals and cohorts with typically sub-optimal communication ability, e.g., children, hearing-impaired adults, non-native listeners and individuals engaged in simultaneous tasks.

The network is training 14 PhD students and giving them not just the necessary cross-disciplinary knowledge and research skills, but also experience of entrepreneurship and technology transfer so they can translate research findings into products and services that will help everybody communicate successfully.

The ENRICH consortium consists of 8 beneficiaries and 6 partners from academia, industry and clinical practice in 9 countries, who collectively provide diverse infrastructure for investigating spoken communication and for applying innovations to end-user populations. ENRICH is a European Training Network (ETN) funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme.

Responsibilities of Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg

In this project, the Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA assesses techniques to produce and improve real and generated speech with respect to comprehensibility and cognitive effort on the receiver side, primarily for communication systems in scenarios such as telecommunication, public address systems, and hearables.

In Oldenburg, the project's PhD student, Horizon2020 Early Stage Researcher Amy Jane Hall, aims to gain a thorough understanding of how electroencephalography (EEG) can be used to measure change in listening effort, and how EEG measures compare to other subjective and objective measures of listening effort.These measures will be used to assess the relative benefits to cognitive processing of speech enhancement algorithms, such as AdaptDRC, which aim to enhance speech intelligibility. Further, she will explore how individual differences in cognitive abilities such as selective attention and working memory are associated with the experience of cognitive effort.

Amy Jane Hall is the ENRICH network's PhD student at Fraunhofer IDMT in Oldenburg.

European Commission under the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme

This project has received funding from EU's H2020 research and innovation programme under the MSCA GA 675324.

Mobile Neurotechnologies

The group "Mobile Neurotechnologies« is working on discreet EEG systems for the analysis of brain activity - e.g. for safe workplace design or for use in health applications.