Effects of Age and Hearing Sensitivity on the Use of Prosodic Information in Spoken Word Recognition It is well known that spoken words can often be recognized from just their onsets and that older adults require a greater word onset duration for recognition than young adults. In this study, young and older adults heard either just word onsets, word onsets followed by white noise indicating the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2000
Effects of Age and Hearing Sensitivity on the Use of Prosodic Information in Spoken Word Recognition
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Arthur Wingfield
    Brandeis University Waltham, MA Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA
  • Kimberly C. Lindfield
    Brandeis University Waltham, MA Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA
  • Harold Goodglass
    Brandeis University Waltham, MA Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2000
Effects of Age and Hearing Sensitivity on the Use of Prosodic Information in Spoken Word Recognition
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2000, Vol. 43, 915-925. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4304.915
History: Received March 11, 1999 , Accepted January 19, 2000
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2000, Vol. 43, 915-925. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4304.915
History: Received March 11, 1999; Accepted January 19, 2000

It is well known that spoken words can often be recognized from just their onsets and that older adults require a greater word onset duration for recognition than young adults. In this study, young and older adults heard either just word onsets, word onsets followed by white noise indicating the full duration of the target word, or word onsets followed by a low-pass-filtered signal that indicated the number of syllables and syllabic stress (word prosody) in the absence of segmental information. Older adults required longer stimulus durations for word recognition under all conditions, with age differences in hearing sensitivity contributing significantly to this age difference. Within this difference, however, word recognition was facilitated by knowledge of word prosody to the same degree for young and older adults. These findings suggest, first, that listeners can detect and utilize word stress in making perceptual judgments and, second, that this ability remains spared in normal aging.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by NIH Grant R37 AG04517 from the National Institute on Aging. The second author acknowledges support from Training Grant T32 DC00017 to the Boston University School of Medicine. We also gratefully acknowledge support from the W. M. Keck Foundation. We thank Julie L. Ducharme and Jill L. Garland for their help in the preparation of this manuscript.
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