Contributions to Speech-Cue Weighting in Older Adults With Impaired Hearing

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2020 Jan 15;63(1):334-344. doi: 10.1044/2019_JSLHR-19-00176. Print 2020 Jan 22.

Abstract

Purpose In a previous paper (Souza, Wright, Blackburn, Tatman, & Gallun, 2015), we explored the extent to which individuals with sensorineural hearing loss used different cues for speech identification when multiple cues were available. Specifically, some listeners placed the greatest weight on spectral cues (spectral shape and/or formant transition), whereas others relied on the temporal envelope. In the current study, we aimed to determine whether listeners who relied on temporal envelope did so because they were unable to discriminate the formant information at a level sufficient to use it for identification and the extent to which a brief discrimination test could predict cue weighting patterns. Method Participants were 30 older adults with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The first task was to label synthetic speech tokens based on the combined percept of temporal envelope rise time and formant transitions. An individual profile was derived from linear discriminant analysis of the identification responses. The second task was to discriminate differences in either temporal envelope rise time or formant transitions. The third task was to discriminate spectrotemporal modulation in a nonspeech stimulus. Results All listeners were able to discriminate temporal envelope rise time at levels sufficient for the identification task. There was wide variability in the ability to discriminate formant transitions, and that ability predicted approximately one third of the variance in the identification task. There was no relationship between performance in the identification task and either amount of hearing loss or ability to discriminate nonspeech spectrotemporal modulation. Conclusions The data suggest that listeners who rely to a greater extent on temporal cues lack the ability to discriminate fine-grained spectral information. The fact that the amount of hearing loss was not associated with the cue profile underscores the need to characterize individual abilities in a more nuanced way than can be captured by the pure-tone audiogram.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids
  • Hearing Loss, Bilateral / psychology*
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / psychology*
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Speech Discrimination Tests
  • Speech Perception*