Effects of Aging and Noise on Real-Time Spoken Word Recognition: Evidence From Eye Movements PurposeTo use eye tracking to investigate age differences in real-time lexical processing in quiet and in noise in light of the fact that older adults find it more difficult than younger adults to understand conversations in noisy situations.MethodTwenty-four younger and 24 older adults followed spoken instructions referring to depicted objects, ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2011
Effects of Aging and Noise on Real-Time Spoken Word Recognition: Evidence From Eye Movements
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Boaz M. Ben-David
    University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Craig G. Chambers
    University of Toronto, Mississauga
  • Meredyth Daneman
    University of Toronto, Mississauga
  • M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller
    University of Toronto, Mississauga, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • Eyal M. Reingold
    University of Toronto, Mississauga
  • Bruce A. Schneider
    University of Toronto, Mississauga
  • Contact author: Boaz M. Ben-David, Oral Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Speech-Language Pathology, 160-500 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1V7, Canada. E-mail: boaz.ben.david@utoronto.ca.
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   February 01, 2011
Effects of Aging and Noise on Real-Time Spoken Word Recognition: Evidence From Eye Movements
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 243-262. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0233)
History: Received October 22, 2009 , Revised April 20, 2010 , Accepted June 8, 2010
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2011, Vol. 54, 243-262. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0233)
History: Received October 22, 2009; Revised April 20, 2010; Accepted June 8, 2010
Web of Science® Times Cited: 32

PurposeTo use eye tracking to investigate age differences in real-time lexical processing in quiet and in noise in light of the fact that older adults find it more difficult than younger adults to understand conversations in noisy situations.

MethodTwenty-four younger and 24 older adults followed spoken instructions referring to depicted objects, for example, “Look at the candle.” Eye movements captured listeners' ability to differentiate the target noun (candle) from a similar-sounding phonological competitor (e.g., candy or sandal). Manipulations included the presence/absence of noise, the type of phonological overlap in target–competitor pairs, and the number of syllables.

ResultsHaving controlled for age-related differences in word recognition accuracy (by tailoring noise levels), similar online processing profiles were found for younger and older adults when targets were discriminated from competitors that shared onset sounds. Age-related differences were found when target words were differentiated from rhyming competitors and were more extensive in noise.

ConclusionsReal-time spoken word recognition processes appear similar for younger and older adults in most conditions; however, age-related differences may be found in the discrimination of rhyming words (especially in noise), even when there are no age differences in word recognition accuracy. These results highlight the utility of eye movement methodologies for studying speech processing across the life span.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a Strategic Research Training Grant on Communication and Social Interaction in Healthy Aging and a Group Grant on Sensory and Cognitive Aging, both funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (STP-53875 and MGC-42665) and by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 15359) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN 238362-05, RGPIN 2690-02, RGPIN 138472-05, RGPIN 105451-05, RGPIN 9952-03, and RGPIN 9952-08) to the second through sixth authors. The first author was partially supported by a grant from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (2008-ABI-PDF-659).
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