Age-related and gender-related changes in monaural speech recognition

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1997 Apr;40(2):444-52. doi: 10.1044/jslhr.4002.444.


Previous studies of older listeners suggest age-related declines in speech recognition. However, the interpretation of these results is not straightforward because auditory thresholds, which account for the largest proportion of the variance in speech-recognition scores, also vary considerably with age. Here, effects of age, gender, and auditory thresholds on several measures of speech recognition were assessed for a large sample of individuals enrolled in a longitudinal study of age-related hearing loss. Participants ranged in age from 55-84 years. They were evaluated with a battery of conventional audiometric measures and speech-recognition materials, including NU-6 monosyllabic words, Synthetic Sentence Identification sentences, and high-context and low-context sentences from the Speech Perception in Noise test. Two analyses were conducted to assure that changes in speech-recognition scores with age were examined independently of age-related changes in auditory thresholds. In the first analysis, no significant differences in speech recognition were observed for individuals in three age groups (55-64, 65-74, 75-84 years) who were selected so that average puretone thresholds for the groups were within 5 dB. In the second analysis, using partial correlations to adjust both score and age for their association with average thresholds, significant declines with age were observed for males in maximum word recognition, maximum synthetic sentence identification, and keyword recognition in high-context sentences. For females, no significant changes in speech recognition with age were observed for any test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cochlea / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Speech Perception*