Syndicated Content

Masked Sentence Recognition in Children, Young Adults, and Older Adults: Age-Dependent Effects of Semantic Context and Masker Type

Objectives: Masked speech recognition in normal-hearing listeners depends in part on masker type and semantic context of the target. Children and older adults are more susceptible to masking than young adults, particularly when the masker is speech. Semantic context has been shown to facilitate noise-masked sentence recognition in all age groups, but it is not known whether age affects a listener’s ability to use context with a speech masker. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of masker type and semantic context of the target as a function of listener age. Design: Listeners were children (5 to 16 years), young adults (19 to 30 years), and older adults (67 to 81 years), all with normal or near-normal hearing. Maskers were either speech-shaped noise or two-talker speech, and targets were either semantically correct (high context) sentences or semantically anomalous (low context) sentences. Results: As predicted, speech reception thresholds were lower for young adults than either children or older adults. Age effects were larger for the two-talker masker than the speech-shaped noise masker, and the effect of masker type was larger in children than older adults. Performance tended to be better for targets with high than low semantic context,……

Effects of Reverberation on the Relation Between Compression Speed and Working Memory for Speech-in-Noise Perception

Objectives: Previous study has suggested that when listening in modulated noise, individuals benefit from different wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) speeds depending on their working memory ability. Reverberation reduces the modulation depth of signals and may impact the relation between WDRC speed and working memory. The purpose of this study was to examine this relation across a range of reverberant conditions. Design: Twenty-eight older listeners with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing impairment were recruited in the present study. Individual working memory was measured using a Reading Span test. Sentences were combined with noise at two signal to noise ratios (2 and 5 dB SNR), and reverberation was simulated at a range of reverberation times (0.00, 0.75, 1.50, and 3.00 sec). Speech intelligibility was measured in listeners when listening to the sentences processed with simulated fast-acting and slow-acting WDRC conditions. Results: There was a significant relation between WDRC speed and working memory with minimal or no reverberation. Consistent with previous research, this relation was such that individuals with high working memory had higher speech intelligibility with fast-acting WDRC, and individuals with low working memory performed better with slow-acting WDRC. However, at longer reverberation times, there was no relation between WDRC speed and working memory. Conclusions:……

Measures of Listening Effort Are Multidimensional

Objectives: Listening effort can be defined as the cognitive resources required to perform a listening task. The literature on listening effort is as confusing as it is voluminous: measures of listening effort rarely correlate with each other and sometimes result in contradictory findings. Here, we directly compared simultaneously recorded multimodal measures of listening effort. After establishing the reliability of the measures, we investigated validity by quantifying correlations between measures and then grouping-related measures through factor analysis. Design: One hundred and sixteen participants with audiometric thresholds ranging from normal to severe hearing loss took part in the study (age range: 55 to 85 years old, 50.3% male). We simultaneously measured pupil size, electroencephalographic alpha power, skin conductance, and self-report listening effort. One self-report measure of fatigue was also included. The signal to noise ratio (SNR) was adjusted at 71% criterion performance using sequences of 3 digits. The main listening task involved correct recall of a random digit from a sequence of six presented at a SNR where performance was around 82 to 93%. Test–retest reliability of the measures was established by retesting 30 participants 7 days after the initial session. Results: With the exception of skin conductance and the self-report measure of……

Effects of Age and Hearing Loss on the Recognition of Emotions in Speech

Objectives: Emotional communication is a cornerstone of social cognition and informs human interaction. Previous studies have shown deficits in facial and vocal emotion recognition in older adults, particularly for negative emotions. However, few studies have examined combined effects of aging and hearing loss on vocal emotion recognition by adults. The objective of this study was to compare vocal emotion recognition in adults with hearing loss relative to age-matched peers with normal hearing. We hypothesized that age would play a role in emotion recognition and that listeners with hearing loss would show deficits across the age range. Design: Thirty-two adults (22 to 74 years of age) with mild to severe, symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss, amplified with bilateral hearing aids and 30 adults (21 to 75 years of age) with normal hearing, participated in the study. Stimuli consisted of sentences spoken by 2 talkers, 1 male, 1 female, in 5 emotions (angry, happy, neutral, sad, and scared) in an adult-directed manner. The task involved a single-interval, five-alternative forced-choice paradigm, in which the participants listened to individual sentences and indicated which of the five emotions was targeted in each sentence. Reaction time was recorded as an indirect measure of cognitive load. Results: Results showed……

Correlates of Hearing Aid Use in UK Adults: Self-Reported Hearing Difficulties, Social Participation, Living Situation, Health, and Demographics

Objectives: Hearing impairment is ranked fifth globally for years lived with disability, yet hearing aid use is low among individuals with a hearing impairment. Identifying correlates of hearing aid use would be helpful in developing interventions to promote use. To date, however, no studies have investigated a wide range of variables, this has limited intervention development. The aim of the present study was to identify correlates of hearing aid use in adults in the United Kingdom with a hearing impairment. To address limitations in previous studies, we used a cross-sectional analysis to model a wide range of potential correlates simultaneously to provide better evidence to aid intervention development. Design: The research was conducted using the UK Biobank Resource. A cross-sectional analysis of hearing aid use was conducted on 18,730 participants aged 40 to 69 years old with poor hearing, based on performance on the Digit Triplet test. Results: Nine percent of adults with poor hearing in the cross-sectional sample reported using a hearing aid. The strongest correlate of hearing aid use was self-reported hearing difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 110.69 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 65.12 to 188.16]). Individuals who were older were more likely to use a hearing aid: for……