Effects of age and hearing loss on the intelligibility of interrupted speech

J Acoust Soc Am. 2015 Feb;137(2):745-56. doi: 10.1121/1.4906275.


How age and hearing loss affect the perception of interrupted speech may vary based on both the physical properties of preserved or obliterated speech fragments and individual listener characteristics. To investigate perceptual processes and interruption parameters influencing intelligibility across interruption rates, participants of different age and hearing status heard sentences interrupted by silence at either a single primary rate (0.5-8 Hz; 25%, 50%, 75% duty cycle) or at an additional concurrent secondary rate (24 Hz; 50% duty cycle). Although age and hearing loss significantly affected intelligibility, the ability to integrate sub-phonemic speech fragments produced by the fast secondary rate was similar in all listener groups. Age and hearing loss interacted with rate with smallest group differences observed at the lowest and highest interruption rates of 0.5 and 24 Hz. Furthermore, intelligibility of dual-rate gated sentences was higher than single-rate gated sentences with the same proportion of retained speech. Correlations of intelligibility of interrupted speech to pure-tone thresholds, age, or measures of working memory and auditory spectro-temporal pattern discrimination were generally low-to-moderate and mostly nonsignificant. These findings demonstrate rate-dependent effects of age and hearing loss on the perception of interrupted speech, suggesting complex interactions of perceptual processes across different time scales.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Audiometry, Speech
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments / psychology*
  • Presbycusis / diagnosis
  • Presbycusis / psychology*
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Intelligibility*
  • Speech Perception*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult