Age-Related Changes in Objective and Subjective Speech Perception in Complex Listening Environments Purpose A frequent complaint by older adults is difficulty communicating in challenging acoustic environments. The purpose of this work was to review and summarize information about how speech perception in complex listening situations changes across the adult age range. Method This article provides a review of age-related changes ... Review Article
Review Article  |   October 17, 2017
Age-Related Changes in Objective and Subjective Speech Perception in Complex Listening Environments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karen S. Helfer
    Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Gabrielle R. Merchant
    Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Peter A. Wasiuk
    Department of Communication Disorders, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • 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 Karen S. Helfer: khelfer@comdis.umass.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Frederick Gallun
    Editor-in-Chief: Frederick Gallun×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Research Forum: Advances in Research on Auditory Attention and the Processing of Complex Auditory Stimuli / Review Articles
Review Article   |   October 17, 2017
Age-Related Changes in Objective and Subjective Speech Perception in Complex Listening Environments
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2017, Vol. 60, 3009-3018. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-17-0030
History: Received January 23, 2017 , Revised May 3, 2017 , Accepted May 3, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2017, Vol. 60, 3009-3018. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-17-0030
History: Received January 23, 2017; Revised May 3, 2017; Accepted May 3, 2017

Purpose A frequent complaint by older adults is difficulty communicating in challenging acoustic environments. The purpose of this work was to review and summarize information about how speech perception in complex listening situations changes across the adult age range.

Method This article provides a review of age-related changes in speech understanding in complex listening environments and summarizes results from several studies conducted in our laboratory.

Results Both degree of high frequency hearing loss and cognitive test performance limit individuals' ability to understand speech in difficult listening situations as they age. The performance of middle-aged adults is similar to that of younger adults in the presence of noise maskers, but they experience substantially more difficulty when the masker is 1 or 2 competing speech messages. For the most part, middle-aged participants in studies conducted in our laboratory reported as much self-perceived hearing problems as did older adult participants.

Conclusions Research supports the multifactorial nature of listening in real-world environments. Current audiologic assessment practices are often insufficient to identify the true speech understanding struggles that individuals experience in these situations. This points to the importance of giving weight to patients' self-reported difficulties.

Presentation Video http://cred.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2601619

Acknowledgments
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01 012057. We thank Richard Freyman, Angela Costanzi, Sarah Laakso, Kim Adamson-Bashaw, and Michael Rogers for their assistance with the experiments discussed in this article. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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