Auditory and Cognitive Effects of Aging on Perception of Environmental Sounds in Natural Auditory Scenes PurposePreviously, Gygi and Shafiro (2011)  found that when environmental sounds are semantically incongruent with the background scene (e.g., horse galloping in a restaurant), they can be identified more accurately by young normal-hearing listeners (YNH) than sounds congruent with the scene (e.g., horse galloping at a racetrack). This study investigated how ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2013
Auditory and Cognitive Effects of Aging on Perception of Environmental Sounds in Natural Auditory Scenes
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brian Gygi
    Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System, Martinez, CA
  • Valeriy Shafiro
    Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
  • Correspondence to Brian Gygi: bgygi@ebire.org
  • Editor: Craig Champlin
    Editor: Craig Champlin×
  • Associate Editor: Pam Souza
    Associate Editor: Pam Souza×
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing
Article   |   October 01, 2013
Auditory and Cognitive Effects of Aging on Perception of Environmental Sounds in Natural Auditory Scenes
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2013, Vol. 56, 1373-1388. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0283)
History: Received September 6, 2012 , Revised January 19, 2013 , Accepted February 23, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2013, Vol. 56, 1373-1388. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0283)
History: Received September 6, 2012; Revised January 19, 2013; Accepted February 23, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

PurposePreviously, Gygi and Shafiro (2011)  found that when environmental sounds are semantically incongruent with the background scene (e.g., horse galloping in a restaurant), they can be identified more accurately by young normal-hearing listeners (YNH) than sounds congruent with the scene (e.g., horse galloping at a racetrack). This study investigated how age and high-frequency audibility affect this Incongruency Advantage (IA) effect.

MethodIn Experiments 1a and 1b, elderly listeners (N = 18 for 1a; N = 10 for 1b) with age-appropriate hearing (EAH) were tested on target sounds and auditory scenes in 5 sound-to-scene ratios (So/Sc) between −3 and −18 dB. Experiment 2 tested 11 YNH on the same sound–scene pairings lowpass-filtered at 4 kHz (YNH-4k).

ResultsThe EAH and YNH-4k groups exhibited an almost identical pattern of significant IA effects, but both were at approximately 3.9 dB higher So/Sc than the previously tested YNH listeners. However, the psychometric functions revealed a shallower slope for EAH listeners compared with YNH listeners for the congruent stimuli only, suggesting a greater difficulty for the EAH listeners in attending to sounds expected to occur in a scene.

ConclusionsThese findings indicate that semantic relationships between environmental sounds in soundscapes are mediated by both audibility and cognitive factors and suggest a method for dissociating these factors.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Merit Review Training Grant 06-12-00446 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Research Service, awarded to the first author. Partial support was also provided by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant DC0008676, awarded to the second author. We thank Nabeel Rahman for assistance with listener testing.
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