Effects of Steady-State Noise on Verbal Working Memory in Young Adults Purpose We set out to examine the impact of perceptual, linguistic, and capacity demands on performance of verbal working-memory tasks. The Ease of Language Understanding model (Rönnberg et al., 2013) provides a framework for testing the dynamics of these interactions within the auditory-cognitive system. Methods Adult native speakers ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2015
Effects of Steady-State Noise on Verbal Working Memory in Young Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nicole Marrone
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Mary Alt
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Gayle DeDe
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Sarah Olson
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • James Shehorn
    University of Arizona, Tucson
  • 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 Nicole Marrone: nmarrone@email.arizona.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers
    Associate Editor: Mitchell Sommers×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2015
Effects of Steady-State Noise on Verbal Working Memory in Young Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2015, Vol. 58, 1793-1804. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0223
History: Received August 13, 2014 , Revised March 17, 2015 , Accepted September 8, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2015, Vol. 58, 1793-1804. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0223
History: Received August 13, 2014; Revised March 17, 2015; Accepted September 8, 2015

Purpose We set out to examine the impact of perceptual, linguistic, and capacity demands on performance of verbal working-memory tasks. The Ease of Language Understanding model (Rönnberg et al., 2013) provides a framework for testing the dynamics of these interactions within the auditory-cognitive system.

Methods Adult native speakers of English (n = 45) participated in verbal working-memory tasks requiring processing and storage of words involving different linguistic demands (closed/open set). Capacity demand ranged from 2 to 7 words per trial. Participants performed the tasks in quiet and in speech-spectrum-shaped noise. Separate groups of participants were tested at different signal-to-noise ratios. Word-recognition measures were obtained to determine effects of noise on intelligibility.

Results Contrary to predictions, steady-state noise did not have an adverse effect on working-memory performance in every situation. Noise negatively influenced performance for the task with high linguistic demand. Of particular importance is the finding that the adverse effects of background noise were not confined to conditions involving declines in recognition.

Conclusions Perceptual, linguistic, and cognitive demands can dynamically affect verbal working-memory performance even in a population of healthy young adults. Results suggest that researchers and clinicians need to carefully analyze task demands to understand the independent and combined auditory-cognitive factors governing performance in everyday listening situations.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by research funding associated with the James S. and Dyan Pignatelli/Unisource Clinical Chair in Audiologic Rehabilitation for Adults, the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona, and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (K23DC010808 to Gayle DeDe). Preliminary data were presented at the American Auditory Society meeting in Scottsdale, AZ, March 2014. We thank research assistants Naomi Rhodes, Jaclyn Hellmann, Daniel Bos, Sarah Whitehurst, and Jen DiLallo for their assistance with data collection. We also thank Mitch Sommers for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this research article.
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