Children's Speech Perception in Noise: Evidence for Dissociation From Language and Working Memory Purpose We examined the association between speech perception in noise (SPIN), language abilities, and working memory (WM) capacity in school-age children. Existing studies supporting the Ease of Language Understanding (ELU) model suggest that WM capacity plays a significant role in adverse listening situations. Method Eighty-three children between the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 17, 2018
Children's Speech Perception in Noise: Evidence for Dissociation From Language and Working Memory
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Beula M. Magimairaj
    Cognition and Language Lab, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Central Arkansas, Conway
  • Naveen K. Nagaraj
    Cognitive Hearing Science Lab, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Natalie J. Benafield
    Cognition and Language Lab, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Central Arkansas, Conway
  • 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 Beula M. Magimairaj: bmagimairaj@uca.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun
    Editor-in-Chief: Frederick (Erick) Gallun×
  • Editor: Lori Leibold
    Editor: Lori Leibold×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 17, 2018
Children's Speech Perception in Noise: Evidence for Dissociation From Language and Working Memory
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1294-1305. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0312
History: Received August 18, 2017 , Revised October 13, 2017 , Accepted January 12, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1294-1305. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-17-0312
History: Received August 18, 2017; Revised October 13, 2017; Accepted January 12, 2018

Purpose We examined the association between speech perception in noise (SPIN), language abilities, and working memory (WM) capacity in school-age children. Existing studies supporting the Ease of Language Understanding (ELU) model suggest that WM capacity plays a significant role in adverse listening situations.

Method Eighty-three children between the ages of 7 to 11 years participated. The sample represented a continuum of individual differences in attention, memory, and language abilities. All children had normal-range hearing and normal-range nonverbal IQ. Children completed the Bamford–Kowal–Bench Speech-in-Noise Test (BKB-SIN; Etymotic Research, 2005), a selective auditory attention task, and multiple measures of language and WM.

Results Partial correlations (controlling for age) showed significant positive associations among attention, memory, and language measures. However, BKB-SIN did not correlate significantly with any of the other measures. Principal component analysis revealed a distinct WM factor and a distinct language factor. BKB-SIN loaded robustly as a distinct 3rd factor with minimal secondary loading from sentence recall and short-term memory. Nonverbal IQ loaded as a 4th factor.

Conclusions Results did not support an association between SPIN and WM capacity in children. However, in this study, a single SPIN measure was used. Future studies using multiple SPIN measures are warranted. Evidence from the current study supports the use of BKB-SIN as clinical measure of speech perception ability because it was not influenced by variation in children's language and memory abilities. More large-scale studies in school-age children are needed to replicate the proposed role played by WM in adverse listening situations.

Acknowledgments
The Hearing Health Foundation's Emerging Research Grant (which was awarded to the authors) supported this work. The authors thank all children and parents who participated. Additional thanks to Taylor Wentz, Sara Liggin, Miranda Gendreau, and Jessica Flores for assistance with data collection and data management.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access