Temporal processing in the aging auditory system

J Acoust Soc Am. 1998 Oct;104(4):2385-99. doi: 10.1121/1.423748.


Measures of monaural temporal processing and binaural sensitivity were obtained from 12 young (mean age = 26.1 years) and 12 elderly (mean age = 70.9 years) adults with clinically normal hearing (pure-tone thresholds < or = 20 dB HL from 250 to 6000 Hz). Monaural temporal processing was measured by gap detection thresholds. Binaural sensitivity was measured by interaural time difference (ITD) thresholds. Gap and ITD thresholds were obtained at three sound levels (4, 8, or 16 dB above individual threshold). Subjects were also tested on two measures of speech perception, a masking level difference (MLD) task, and a syllable identification/discrimination task that included phonemes varying in voice onset time (VOT). Elderly listeners displayed poorer monaural temporal analysis (higher gap detection thresholds) and poorer binaural processing (higher ITD thresholds) at all sound levels. There were significant interactions between age and sound level, indicating that the age difference was larger at lower stimulus levels. Gap detection performance was found to correlate significantly with performance on the ITD task for young, but not elderly adult listeners. Elderly listeners also performed more poorly than younger listeners on both speech measures; however, there was no significant correlation between psychoacoustic and speech measures of temporal processing. Findings suggest that age-related factors other than peripheral hearing loss contribute to temporal processing deficits of elderly listeners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology*