Older Listeners' Use of Temporal Cues Altered by Compression Amplification This study compared the ability of younger and older listeners to use temporal information in speech when that information was altered by compression amplification. Recognition of vowel-consonant-vowel syllables was measured for four groups of adult listeners (younger normal hearing, older normal hearing, younger hearing impaired, older hearing impaired). There were ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2000
Older Listeners' Use of Temporal Cues Altered by Compression Amplification
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pamela E. Souza
    Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences University of Washington Seattle
  • Contact author: Pamela E. Souza, PhD, Dept. of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, 1417 NE 42nd Street, Seattle, WA 98105.
    Contact author: Pamela E. Souza, PhD, Dept. of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, 1417 NE 42nd Street, Seattle, WA 98105.×
  • Corresponding author: Email: psouza@u.washington.edu
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2000
Older Listeners' Use of Temporal Cues Altered by Compression Amplification
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2000, Vol. 43, 661-674. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4303.661
History: Received April 26, 1999 , Accepted December 6, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2000, Vol. 43, 661-674. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4303.661
History: Received April 26, 1999; Accepted December 6, 1999

This study compared the ability of younger and older listeners to use temporal information in speech when that information was altered by compression amplification. Recognition of vowel-consonant-vowel syllables was measured for four groups of adult listeners (younger normal hearing, older normal hearing, younger hearing impaired, older hearing impaired). There were four conditions. Syllables were processed with wide-dynamic range compression (WDRC) amplification and with linear amplification. In each of those conditions, recognition was measured for syllables containing only temporal information and for syllables containing spectral and temporal information. Recognition of WDRC-amplified speech provided an estimate of the ability to use altered amplitude envelope cues. Syllables were presented with a high-frequency masker to minimize confounding differences in high-frequency sensitivity between the younger and older groups. Scores were lower for WDRC-amplified speech than for linearly amplified speech, and older listeners performed more poorly than younger listeners. When spectral information was unrestricted, the age-related decrement was similar for both amplification types. When spectral information was restricted for listeners with normal hearing, the age-related decrement was greater for WDRC-amplified speech than for linearly amplified speech. When spectral information was restricted for listeners with hearing loss, the age-related decrement was similar for both amplification types. Clinically, these results imply that when spectral cues are available (i.e., when the listener has adequate spectral resolution) older listeners can use WDRC hearing aids to the same extent as younger listeners. For older listeners without hearing loss, poorer scores for compression-amplified speech suggest an age-related deficit in temporal resolution.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the American Federation for Aging Research and by the University of Washington Royalty Research Fund. I am grateful to Johanna Larsen, Alecia Soyk, Robbi Bishop, and Christine Kim for their help in data collection. I would also like to thank Chris Turner, for providing the initial stimuli and for his assistance in developing many of the ideas and methods for this study, and Tim Trine and Dianne Van Tasell, for their help in developing the compression algorithm. Rich Folsom, Amy Horwitz, Chris Turner, and Lynne Werner provided helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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