Article  |   June 2011
Older Adults Expend More Listening Effort Than Young Adults Recognizing Speech in Noise
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Penny Anderson Gosselin
    Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Quebec, Canada
    Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • Jean-Pierre Gagné
    Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Quebec, Canada
    Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • Correspondence to Penny Anderson Gosselin: penny.anderson@umontreal.ca
  • Editor: Robert Schlauch
    Editor: Robert Schlauch×
  • Associate Editor: Jill Preminger
    Associate Editor: Jill Preminger×
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing
Article   |   June 2011
Older Adults Expend More Listening Effort Than Young Adults Recognizing Speech in Noise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research June 2011, Vol.54, 944-958. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0069)
History: Accepted 06 Oct 2010 , Received 13 Mar 2010 , Revised 03 Aug 2010
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research June 2011, Vol.54, 944-958. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0069)
History: Accepted 06 Oct 2010 , Received 13 Mar 2010 , Revised 03 Aug 2010

Purpose: Listening in noisy situations is a challenging experience for many older adults. The authors hypothesized that older adults exert more listening effort compared with young adults. Listening effort involves the attention and cognitive resources required to understand speech. The purpose was (a) to quantify the amount of listening effort that young and older adults expend when they listen to speech in noise and (b) to examine the relationship between self-reported listening effort and objective measures.

Method: A dual-task paradigm was used to objectively evaluate the listening effort of 25 young and 25 older adults. The primary task involved a closed-set sentence-recognition test, and the secondary task involved a vibrotactile pattern recognition test. Participants performed each task separately and concurrently under 2 experimental conditions: (a) when the level of noise was the same and (b) when baseline word recognition performance did not differ between groups.

Results: Older adults expended more listening effort than young adults under both experimental conditions. Subjective estimates of listening effort did not correlate with any of the objective dual-task measures.

Conclusions: Older adults require more processing resources to understand speech in noise. Dual-task measures and subjective ratings tap different aspects of listening effort.

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