How Age, Linguistic Status, and the Nature of the Auditory Scene Alter the Manner in Which Listening Comprehension Is Achieved in Multitalker Conversations Purpose We investigated how age and linguistic status affected listeners' ability to follow and comprehend 3-talker conversations, and the extent to which individual differences in language proficiency predict speech comprehension under difficult listening conditions. Method Younger and older L1s as well as young L2s listened to 3-talker conversations, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2015
How Age, Linguistic Status, and the Nature of the Auditory Scene Alter the Manner in Which Listening Comprehension Is Achieved in Multitalker Conversations
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Meital Avivi-Reich
    University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Agnes Jakubczyk
    University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Meredyth Daneman
    University of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Bruce A. Schneider
    University of Toronto Mississauga, 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 Bruce A. Schneider: bruce.schneider@utoronto.ca
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers
    Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2015
How Age, Linguistic Status, and the Nature of the Auditory Scene Alter the Manner in Which Listening Comprehension Is Achieved in Multitalker Conversations
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1570-1591. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0177
History: Received June 25, 2014 , Revised February 15, 2015 , Accepted June 3, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1570-1591. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0177
History: Received June 25, 2014; Revised February 15, 2015; Accepted June 3, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose We investigated how age and linguistic status affected listeners' ability to follow and comprehend 3-talker conversations, and the extent to which individual differences in language proficiency predict speech comprehension under difficult listening conditions.

Method Younger and older L1s as well as young L2s listened to 3-talker conversations, with or without spatial separation between talkers, in either quiet or against moderate or high 12-talker babble background, and were asked to answer questions regarding their contents.

Results After compensating for individual differences in speech recognition, no significant differences in conversation comprehension were found among the groups. As expected, conversation comprehension decreased as babble level increased. Individual differences in reading comprehension skill contributed positively to performance in younger EL1s and in young EL2s to a lesser degree but not in older EL1s. Vocabulary knowledge was significantly and positively related to performance only at the intermediate babble level.

Conclusion The results indicate that the manner in which spoken language comprehension is achieved is modulated by the listeners' age and linguistic status.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant (MOP-15359) awarded to Bruce Schneider and a European Research Area in Ageing 2 grant (JCRA Project – HEARATTN), whose Canadian portion was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Grant (TEA-1249) awarded to Bruce Schneider. We would like to thank Jane Carey, Lulu Li, Klajdi Puka, and James Qi for their assistance in conducting these experiments.
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