Binaural Advantage for Younger and Older Adults With Normal Hearing Purpose Three experiments measured benefit of spatial separation, benefit of binaural listening, and masking-level differences (MLDs) to assess age-related differences in binaural advantage. Method Participants were younger and older adults with normal hearing through 4.0 kHz. Experiment 1 compared spatial benefit with and without head shadow. Sentences were ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2008
Binaural Advantage for Younger and Older Adults With Normal Hearing
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judy R. Dubno
    Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Jayne B. Ahlstrom
    Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Amy R. Horwitz
    Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Contact author: Judy R. Dubno, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, 135 Rutledge Avenue, MSC 550, Charleston, SC 29425-5500. E-mail: dubnojr@musc.edu.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2008
Binaural Advantage for Younger and Older Adults With Normal Hearing
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 539-556. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/039)
History: Received August 7, 2006 , Accepted August 10, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2008, Vol. 51, 539-556. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/039)
History: Received August 7, 2006; Accepted August 10, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 28

Purpose Three experiments measured benefit of spatial separation, benefit of binaural listening, and masking-level differences (MLDs) to assess age-related differences in binaural advantage.

Method Participants were younger and older adults with normal hearing through 4.0 kHz. Experiment 1 compared spatial benefit with and without head shadow. Sentences were at 0o, and speech-shaped noise was at 0o, 90o, or ±90o. Experiment 2 measured binaural benefit with the near ear unplugged compared with plugged for sentences at 0o and masker at 90o. Experiment 3 measured MLDs under earphones for 0.5-kHz pure tones in Gaussian and low-noise noise, and spondees in speech-shaped noise.

Results Spatial-separation benefit for speech did not differ significantly for younger and older adults but was smaller than predicted by an audibility-based model for older adults and larger than predicted for younger adults. Binaural listening benefit was observed for younger participants only. Tonal MLDs suggested that listeners benefit from interaural difference cues during noise dips for signals out of phase. Neither tonal nor speech MLDs differed significantly between younger and older participants.

Conclusion Binaural processing of sentences revealed some age-related deficits in the use of interaural difference cues, whereas no deficits were observed for more simple detection or recognition tasks.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported (in part) by Grants P50 DC00422 and R01 DC00184 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health; a grant from the James E. and Pamela Knowles Foundation; and Grant M01 RR 01070 from the MUSC General Clinical Research Center. This investigation was conducted in a facility constructed with support from Research Facilities Improvement Program Grant C06 RR14516 from the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. We thank Fu-Shing Lee for advice and assistance with data analysis and Emily Buss for providing advice on and software for generating low-noise noise.
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