Modulation Detection, Modulation Masking, and Speech Understanding in Noise in the Elderly Temporal processing of suprathreshold sounds was examined in a group of young normalhearing subjects (mean age of 26.0 years), and in three groups of older subjects (mean ages of 54.3, 64.8, and 72.2 years) with normal hearing or mild sensorineural hearing loss. Three experiments were performed. In the first experiment ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1992
Modulation Detection, Modulation Masking, and Speech Understanding in Noise in the Elderly
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gail A. Takahashi
    Arizona State University Tempe
  • Sid P. Bacon
    Arizona State University Tempe
  • Contact author: Gail A. Takahashi, PhD, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, JG-15, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1992
Modulation Detection, Modulation Masking, and Speech Understanding in Noise in the Elderly
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1410-1421. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1410
History: Received November 27, 1991 , Accepted May 8, 1992
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1410-1421. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1410
History: Received November 27, 1991; Accepted May 8, 1992

Temporal processing of suprathreshold sounds was examined in a group of young normalhearing subjects (mean age of 26.0 years), and in three groups of older subjects (mean ages of 54.3, 64.8, and 72.2 years) with normal hearing or mild sensorineural hearing loss. Three experiments were performed. In the first experiment (modulation detection), subjects were asked to detect sinusoidal amplitude modulation (SAM) of a broadband noise, for modulation frequencies ranging from 2–1024 Hz. In the second experiment (modulation masking), the task was to detect a SAM signal (modulation frequency of 8 Hz) in the presence of a 100%-modulated SAM masker. Masker modulation frequency ranged from 2–64 Hz. In the final experiment, speech understanding was measured as a function of signal-to-noise ratio in both an unmodulated background noise and in a SAM background noise that had a modulation frequency of 8 Hz and a modulation depth of 100%. Except for a very modest correlation between age and modulation detection sensitivity at low modulation frequencies, there were no significant effects of age once the effect of hearing loss was taken into account. The results of the experiments suggest, however, that subjects with even a mild sensorineural hearing loss may have difficulty with a modulation masking task, and may not understand speech as well as normal-hearing subjects do in a modulated noise background.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by grants from the American Federation for Aging Research, Inc., (with funding from the Allied-Signal Foundation) and from the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD Grant DC00424). We are grateful to our subjects who so eagerly volunteered and to David Reiter who wrote the software to run the experiments. We thank Chris Tumer and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We also thank Judy Dubno for providing the SPIN tapes.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access