Hearing Loss, Aging, and Speech Perception in Reverberation and Noise The present investigation examined the effect of reverberation and noise on the perception of nonsense syllables by four groups of subjects: younger (≤35 years of age) and older (>60 years of age) listeners with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss; younger, normal-hearing individuals; and older adults with minimal peripheral hearing loss. Copies ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 01, 1990
Hearing Loss, Aging, and Speech Perception in Reverberation and Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karen S. Helfer
    University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Laura A. Wilber
    Northwestern University
  • Request for reprints should be sent to Karen S. Helfer, University of Massachusetts, Department of Communication Disorders, Arnold House, Amherst, MA 01003.
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 01, 1990
Hearing Loss, Aging, and Speech Perception in Reverberation and Noise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 1990, Vol. 33, 149-155. doi:10.1044/jshr.3301.149
History: Received March 6, 1989 , Accepted August 7, 1989
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, March 1990, Vol. 33, 149-155. doi:10.1044/jshr.3301.149
History: Received March 6, 1989; Accepted August 7, 1989

The present investigation examined the effect of reverberation and noise on the perception of nonsense syllables by four groups of subjects: younger (≤35 years of age) and older (>60 years of age) listeners with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing loss; younger, normal-hearing individuals; and older adults with minimal peripheral hearing loss. Copies of the Nonsense Syllable Test (Resnick, Dubno, Huffnung, & Levitt, 1975) were re-recorded under four levels of reverberation (0.0, 0.6, 0.9, 1.3 s) in quiet and in cafeteria noise at + 10 dB S:N. Results suggest that both age and amount of pure-tone hearing loss contribute to senescent changes in the ability to understand noisy, reverberant speech: pure-tone threshold and age were correlated negatively with performance in reverberation plus noise, although age and pure-tone hearing loss were not correlated with each other. Further, many older adults with minimal amounts of peripheral hearing loss demonstrated difficulty understanding distorted consonants.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This article is based upon a doctoral dissertation completed by the first author under the direction of the second author, and was supported in part by a Dissertation Year Fellowship from Northwestern University. We wish to thank Bill Martens, Dean Garstecki, Tom Carrell, and Bill Yost for their assistance on this project and Harry Levitt for supplying the NST tapes. We also thank Rich Freyman, Anna Nabelek, and Peter Fitzgibbons for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Portions of this paper were presented at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention in Boston, Massachusetts, November, 1988.
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