Abstract

Rimmele, J. M., Schröger, E., & Bendixen, A. (2012). Age-related changes in the use of regular patterns for auditory scene analysis. Hearing Research, 289, 98-107.

Age-related changes in the use of regular patterns for auditory scene analysis

A recent approach to auditory processing suggests a close relationship of regularity processing in auditory sensory memory (ASM) and stream segregation, such that within-stream regularities can be used to stabilize stream segregation. The present study investigates age-related changes in how regular patterns are used for auditory scene analysis (ASA), when the stream containing the regularity is attended or unattended. In order to accomplish an intensity level deviant detection task, participants had to segregate the task-relevant pure tone sequence from an irrelevant distractor pure tone sequence, which randomly varied in level. In three conditions a simple spectro-temporal regularity ("Isochronous"), a more complex spectro-temporal regularity ("Rhythmic"), or no regularity ("Random") was embedded in either the attended target sequence (Experiment 1), or the unattended distractor sequence (Experiment 2). When the sequence containing the regularity was attended, older participants showed a similar increase of performance to younger adults in the conditions with regular patterns ("Isochronous" and "Rhythmic") compared to the "Random" condition. In contrast, when the sequence containing the regularity was unattended, older adults showed a specific performance decline compared to younger adults in the "Isochronous" condition. Results suggest a link between impaired automatic processing of regularities in ASM, and age-related deficits in the use of regular patterns for ASA.



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