Factors Affecting the Recognition of Reverberant Speech by Elderly Listeners Elderly listeners have been shown to experience greater difficulty with speech understanding than young listeners. The greater difficulty with speech understanding in elderly listeners has been attributed, primarily, to their typical high-frequency sensorineural hearing impairment. However, not all of the observed difficulty can be accounted for by hearing thresholds, leaving ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2000
Factors Affecting the Recognition of Reverberant Speech by Elderly Listeners
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dan C. Halling
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
  • Larry E. Humes
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: hallindc@jmu.edu
  • Contact author: Dan C. Halling, PhD, Communication Sciences and Disorders, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22807. Email: hallindc@jmu.edu
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2000
Factors Affecting the Recognition of Reverberant Speech by Elderly Listeners
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 414-431. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.414
History: Received December 18, 1998 , Accepted August 2, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 414-431. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.414
History: Received December 18, 1998; Accepted August 2, 1999

Elderly listeners have been shown to experience greater difficulty with speech understanding than young listeners. The greater difficulty with speech understanding in elderly listeners has been attributed, primarily, to their typical high-frequency sensorineural hearing impairment. However, not all of the observed difficulty can be accounted for by hearing thresholds, leaving the likelihood of additional suprathreshold processing deficits. This study investigates speech understanding in older people and the relative contributions of hearing threshold and age to speech understanding. Considering that temporal processing is thought to affect speech understanding, the study also assesses the contributions of hearing loss and age to modulation-preservation performance. Finally, individual differences in hearing loss, age, and modulation-preservation performance are examined to see if they are closely associated with individual differences in speech-recognition ability, especially among older listeners. The results of the study suggest that hearing loss is closely tied to both speech-recognition performance and to measures of modulation preservation. Although some of the analyses at first indicated an effect of age, it was shown that this could be attributed in part to slight elevations in hearing threshold. Finally, it was shown that individual differences in hearing loss and measures of modulation preservation and processing efficiency in noise are associated with speech-recognition performance and that, given these measures, speech recognition can be predicted quite accurately.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Aging awarded to Larry E. Humes. The authors wish to thank David Montgomery, Kathy Schmitt, Leah Talley, Dana Wilson, and Wendy Lugar for their assistance in data collection, as well as Fred W. Cooper for his guidance with the statistical analyses. Appreciation is expressed to the 28 individuals who graciously participated in the study. The authors also thank Tammo Houtgast and an anonymous reviewer, as well as the associate editor and editor, for helpful suggestions on the manuscript.
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