Longitudinal changes in speech recognition in older persons

J Acoust Soc Am. 2008 Jan;123(1):462-75. doi: 10.1121/1.2817362.


Recognition of isolated monosyllabic words in quiet and recognition of key words in low- and high-context sentences in babble were measured in a large sample of older persons enrolled in a longitudinal study of age-related hearing loss. Repeated measures were obtained yearly or every 2 to 3 years. To control for concurrent changes in pure-tone thresholds and speech levels, speech-recognition scores were adjusted using an importance-weighted speech-audibility metric (AI). Linear-regression slope estimated the rate of change in adjusted speech-recognition scores. Recognition of words in quiet declined significantly faster with age than predicted by declines in speech audibility. As subjects aged, observed scores deviated increasingly from AI-predicted scores, but this effect did not accelerate with age. Rate of decline in word recognition was significantly faster for females than males and for females with high serum progesterone levels, whereas noise history had no effect. Rate of decline did not accelerate with age but increased with degree of hearing loss, suggesting that with more severe injury to the auditory system, impairments to auditory function other than reduced audibility resulted in faster declines in word recognition as subjects aged. Recognition of key words in low- and high-context sentences in babble did not decline significantly with age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing Disorders / blood*
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology
  • Hearing Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Speech Discrimination Tests
  • Speech Perception*


  • Progesterone