Speech Recognition in Adults With Cochlear Implants: The Effects of Working Memory, Phonological Sensitivity, and Aging Purpose Models of speech recognition suggest that “top-down” linguistic and cognitive functions, such as use of phonotactic constraints and working memory, facilitate recognition under conditions of degradation, such as in noise. The question addressed in this study was what happens to these functions when a listener who has experienced years ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 14, 2017
Speech Recognition in Adults With Cochlear Implants: The Effects of Working Memory, Phonological Sensitivity, and Aging
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Aaron C. Moberly
    Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Michael S. Harris
    Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Lauren Boyce
    Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Susan Nittrouer
    Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • 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 Aaron C. Moberly: aaron.moberly@osumc.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Richard Dowell
    Associate Editor: Richard Dowell×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 14, 2017
Speech Recognition in Adults With Cochlear Implants: The Effects of Working Memory, Phonological Sensitivity, and Aging
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1046-1061. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0119
History: Received March 25, 2016 , Revised August 30, 2016 , Accepted October 14, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2017, Vol. 60, 1046-1061. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-16-0119
History: Received March 25, 2016; Revised August 30, 2016; Accepted October 14, 2016

Purpose Models of speech recognition suggest that “top-down” linguistic and cognitive functions, such as use of phonotactic constraints and working memory, facilitate recognition under conditions of degradation, such as in noise. The question addressed in this study was what happens to these functions when a listener who has experienced years of hearing loss obtains a cochlear implant.

Method Thirty adults with cochlear implants and 30 age-matched controls with age-normal hearing underwent testing of verbal working memory using digit span and serial recall of words. Phonological capacities were assessed using a lexical decision task and nonword repetition. Recognition of words in sentences in speech-shaped noise was measured.

Results Implant users had only slightly poorer working memory accuracy than did controls and only on serial recall of words; however, phonological sensitivity was highly impaired. Working memory did not facilitate speech recognition in noise for either group. Phonological sensitivity predicted sentence recognition for implant users but not for listeners with normal hearing.

Conclusion Clinical speech recognition outcomes for adult implant users relate to the ability of these users to process phonological information. Results suggest that phonological capacities may serve as potential clinical targets through rehabilitative training. Such novel interventions may be particularly helpful for older adult implant users.

Acknowledgments
Development of testing materials for this study was supported by National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R01 DC-000633 and R01 DC006237 to Susan Nittrouer. The study was also supported by a Triological Society Career Development Award and a Speech Science Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation and the Acoustical Society of America to Aaron Moberly. ResearchMatch, which was used to recruit some NH participants, is supported by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Grant UL1TR001070. The authors acknowledge Taylor Wucinich and Chelsea Bates for their assistance in participant testing and scoring.
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