Aging Affects Identification of Vocal Emotions in Semantically Neutral Sentences Purpose The authors determined the accuracy of younger and older adults in identifying vocal emotions using the Toronto Emotional Speech Set (TESS; Dupuis & Pichora-Fuller, 2010a) and investigated the possible contributions of auditory acuity and suprathreshold processing to emotion identification accuracy. Method In 2 experiments, younger and older ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
Aging Affects Identification of Vocal Emotions in Semantically Neutral Sentences
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Kate Dupuis
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Baycrest Health Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Ontario, Canada
  • M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller
    University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Ontario, Canada
    Rotman Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Kate Dupuis: kdupuis@baycrest.org
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Karen Kirk
    Associate Editor: Karen Kirk×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
Aging Affects Identification of Vocal Emotions in Semantically Neutral Sentences
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 1061-1076. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0256
History: Received September 11, 2014 , Revised January 30, 2015 , Accepted March 10, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 1061-1076. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0256
History: Received September 11, 2014; Revised January 30, 2015; Accepted March 10, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose The authors determined the accuracy of younger and older adults in identifying vocal emotions using the Toronto Emotional Speech Set (TESS; Dupuis & Pichora-Fuller, 2010a) and investigated the possible contributions of auditory acuity and suprathreshold processing to emotion identification accuracy.

Method In 2 experiments, younger and older adults with normal hearing listened to and identified vocal emotions in the TESS stimuli. The TESS consists of phrases with controlled syntactic, lexical, and phonological properties spoken by an older female talker and a younger female talker to convey 7 emotion conditions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness, neutral, happiness, and pleasant surprise). Participants in both experiments completed audiometric testing; participants in Experiment 2 also completed 3 tests of suprathreshold auditory processing.

Results Identification by both age groups was above chance for all emotions. Accuracy was lower for older adults in both experiments. The pattern of results was similar across age groups and experiments. Auditory acuity did not predict identification accuracy for either age group in either experiment, nor did performance on tests of auditory processing in Experiment 2.

Conclusions These results replicate and extend previous findings concerning age-related differences in ability to identify vocal emotions and suggest that older adults' auditory abilities do not explain their difficulties in identifying vocal emotions.

Acknowledgments
This research was made possible by support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grants MOP-15359 and STP-53875 and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Grant RGPIN 138472-11 to M. Kathleen Pichora-Fuller and a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to Kate Dupuis. Preliminary results from this study were presented at the Acoustics Week in Canada 2011, annual conference of the Canadian Acoustical Association held in Quebec City, Quebec, in 2011; the Cognitive Aging Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2010; and the Aging and Speech Communication Conference held in Bloomington, Indiana, in 2009. Data from Experiment 1 for the younger adults were published in the proceedings of the Canadian Acoustical Association (2011). We thank Pascal van Lieshout for his advice on the study and Huiwen Goy for Praat programming support during the creation and analysis of the stimuli used in this study.
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