Noise-Vocoded Sentence Recognition and the Use of Context in Older and Younger Adult Listeners

Aaron C. Moberly*, Varun V. Varadarajan, Terrin N. Tamati

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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    Purpose: When listening to speech under adverse conditions, older adults, even with “age-normal” hearing, face challenges that may lead to poorer speech recognition than their younger peers. Older listeners generally demon-strate poorer suprathreshold auditory processing along with aging-related declines in neurocognitive functioning that may impair their ability to compen-sate using “top-down” cognitive–linguistic functions. This study explored top-down processing in older and younger adult listeners, specifically the use of semantic context during noise-vocoded sentence recognition. 

    Method: Eighty-four adults with age-normal hearing (45 young normal-hearing [YNH] and 39 older normal-hearing [ONH] adults) participated. Participants were tested for recognition accuracy for two sets of noise-vocoded sentence mate-rials: one that was semantically meaningful and the other that was syntactically appropriate but semantically anomalous. Participants were also tested for hearing ability and for neurocognitive functioning to assess working memory capac-ity, speed of lexical access, inhibitory control, and nonverbal fluid reasoning, as well as vocabulary knowledge. 

    Results: The ONH and YNH listeners made use of semantic context to a similar extent. Nonverbal reasoning predicted recognition of both meaningful and anomalous sentences, whereas pure-tone average contributed additionally to anomalous sentence recognition. None of the hearing, neurocognitive, or language measures significantly predicted the amount of context gain, computed as the difference score between meaningful and anomalous sentence recogni-tion. However, exploratory cluster analyses demonstrated four listener profiles and suggested that individuals may vary in the strategies used to recognize speech under adverse listening conditions. 

    Conclusions: Older and younger listeners made use of sentence context to similar degrees. Nonverbal reasoning was found to be a contributor to noise-vocoded sentence recognition. However, different listeners may approach the problem of recognizing meaningful speech under adverse conditions using different strategies based on their hearing, neurocognitive, and language profiles. These findings provide support for the complexity of bottom-up and top-down interactions during speech recognition under adverse listening conditions.

    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)365-381
    Aantal pagina's17
    TijdschriftJournal of speech, language, and hearing research
    Nummer van het tijdschrift1
    StatusPublished - jan.-2023

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