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×
Article Information
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: Received March 13, 2010 , Revised August 3, 2010 , Accepted October 6, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2011, Vol. 54, 944-958. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0069)
History: Received March 13, 2010; Revised August 3, 2010; Accepted October 6, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 16

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.

Acknowledgments
Support for this work was provided by the Caroline Durand Foundation and Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Strategic Training Program on Communication and Social Interaction in Healthy Aging. In addition, we would like to thank Isabelle St-Pierre and Marie Pier Pelletier for participant recruitment and data collection.
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