Spatial release from informational masking declines with age: Evidence from a detection task in a virtual separation paradigm

Benjamin H. Zobel*, Anita Wagner, Lisa D. Sanders, Deniz Baskent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
151 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Declines in spatial release from informational masking may contribute to the speech-processing difficulties that older adults often experience within complex listening environments. The present study sought to answer two fundamental questions: (1) Does spatial release from informational masking decline with age and, if so, (2) does age predict this decline independently of age-typical hearing loss? Younger (18-34 years) and older (60-80 years) adults with age-typical hearing completed a yes/no target-detection task with low-pass filtered noise-vocoded speech designed to reduce non-spatial segregation cues and control for hearing loss. Participants detected a target voice among two-talker masking babble while a virtual spatial separation paradigm [Freyman, Helfer, McCall, and Clifton, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 106(6), 3578-3588 (1999)] was used to isolate informational masking release. The younger and older adults both exhibited spatial release from informational masking, but masking release was reduced among the older adults. Furthermore, age predicted this decline controlling for hearing loss, while there was no indication that hearing loss played a role. These findings provide evidence that declines specific to aging limit spatial release from informational masking under challenging listening conditions. (C) 2019 Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-566
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Volume146
Issue number1
Early online dateJul-2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2019

Keywords

  • AUDITORY SOURCE WIDTH
  • OLDER-ADULTS
  • HEARING-LOSS
  • SPEECH RECOGNITION
  • ELDERLY LISTENERS
  • VOCAL CHARACTERISTICS
  • PSYCHOMETRIC FUNCTION
  • LEVEL DIFFERENCES
  • TONAL PATTERNS
  • GAP DETECTION

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