What is it about?

Speech consists of copious temporal and frequency information. Much of this information can be removed and speech is still highly intelligible, which is part of the reason why cochlear-implant (bionic prostheses that restore hearing to deaf individuals) users can function so well. We selectively removed temporal and spectral information to try to understand age-related deficits in speech understanding, thinking that the poorer temporal processing in older adults would explain the age-related deficits. We did not find evidence that the functioning of the auditory system, temporal or spectral, explained the performance gap between the younger and older individuals. This means that there could be a more general (and non-auditory) change with age that decreases speech understanding.

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Why is it important?

Scientists think that "age-related temporal processing deficits" is a major component of the decrease in hearing abilities with age. The fact that this did appear in this study could make us rethink this idea.


Understanding the specific contributions to someone's ability to understand speech helps us set appropriate expectations. We work with many middle-aged and older cochlear-implant users, and it is becoming clearer that our expectations need to change for older individuals. This type of work also lets us determine if we need age-dependent programming approaches for the cochlear-implants.

Dr. Matthew J Goupell
University System of Maryland

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Spectral-Temporal Trade-Off in Vocoded Sentence Recognition, Ear & Hearing, February 2020, Wolters Kluwer Health,
DOI: 10.1097/aud.0000000000000840.
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