What is it about?

Understanding speech in background noise is especially difficult as one grows older. In this study, we observed that older listeners, even with slight hearing loss in the high frequency, encounter more difficulty in understanding speech in the presence of background noises. However, the type and amount of linguistic information in the background noise decides how much the background noises affect the older individuals' ability to understand speech.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show two things - (a) even a slight hearing loss, in select frequencies, can reduce an older individiual's ability to understand speech in noise, (b) Older listeners have a wealth of life experience in handling difficult listening situations which often help them compensate for their listening difficulties.


This article is a part of my PhD exploring the auditory, linguistic, cognitive, and cortical differences in young and older listeners (with normal or near-normal hearing abilities). This article forms the basis of a number of future publications planned to explore these differences. We are excited to share the first of many research outcomes that show that older listeners can actually hold their own, especially if their hearing abilities are not drastically affected.

Anoop Basavanahalli Jagadeesh
Northwestern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effect of Age on Informational Masking: Differential Effects of Phonetic and Semantic Information in the Masker, American Journal of Audiology, September 2022, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), DOI: 10.1044/2022_aja-22-00029.
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