Abstract

Stuckenberg, M. V., Nayak, C. V., Meyer, B. T., Völker, C., Hohmann, V., & Bendixen, A. (in press). Age effects on concurrent speech segregation by onset asynchrony. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Age effects on concurrent speech segregation by onset asynchrony

Purpose: For elderly listeners, it is more challenging than for young listeners to listen to one voice surrounded by other voices. This could be caused by a reduced ability to use acoustic cues – such as slight differences in onset time – for the segregation of concurrent speech signals. Here we study whether the ability to benefit from onset asynchrony differs between young (18-33 years) and elderly (55-74 years) listeners. Method: We investigated young (normal-hearing, N=20) and elderly (mildly hearing-impaired, N=26) listeners’ ability to segregate two vowels with onset asynchronies ranging from 20 ms to 100 ms. Behavioral measures were complemented by a specific event-related brain potential (ERP) component, the object-related negativity (ORN) indicating the perception of two distinct auditory objects. Results: Elderly listeners’ behavioral performance (identification accuracy of the two vowels) was considerably poorer than younger listeners’. However, both age groups showed the same amount of improvement with increasing onset asynchrony. ORN amplitude also increased similarly in both age groups. Conclusions: Both age groups benefit to a similar extent from onset asynchrony as a cue for concurrent speech segregation during active (behavioral measurement) and during passive (EEG measurement) listening.



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