Effects of aging on spatial hearing

Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020 Apr;32(4):733-739. doi: 10.1007/s40520-019-01233-3. Epub 2019 Jun 15.


Background: Aging has several effects on auditory processing with the most important effect known as speech perception impairment in noise.

Aims: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of aging on spatial hearing using quick speech in noise (QSIN) and binaural masking level difference (BMLD) tests and speech, spatial, and qualities of hearing scale (SSQ) questionnaire.

Methods: The study was carried out on 34 elderly people, aged 60-75 years, with normal peripheral hearing and 34 young participants, aged 18-25 years. Using SSQ questionnaire and QSIN and BMLD tests, the spatial auditory processing ability was compared between the two groups.

Results: Comparison of mean scores using independent t test showed that there was a significant difference in the mean scores of QSIN, BMLD tests and SSQ questionnaire between the two groups (p < 0.001). Sex was not found to have any effect on the results (p > 0.05).

Discussion: Structural and neurochemical changes that occur in different parts of the central nervous system by aging affect various aspects of spatial auditory processing, such as localization, the precedence effect, and speech perception in noise.

Conclusions: Lower scores of older adults with normal hearing in SSQ questionnaire and behavioral tests, compared with younger participants, may be considered as their weak performance in spatial auditory processing. The results of the present study reconfirm the effects of aging on spatial auditory processing, such as localization and speech perception in noise.

Keywords: Aging; Spatial hearing; Speech perception in noise.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult