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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Older listeners' use of temporal cues altered by compression amplification

P E Souza
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research: JSLHR 2000, 43 (3): 661-74
10877436
This study compared the ability of younger and older listeners to use temporal information in speech when that information was altered by compression amplification. Recognition of vowel-consonant-vowel syllables was measured for four groups of adult listeners (younger normal hearing, older normal hearing, younger hearing impaired, older hearing impaired). There were four conditions. Syllables were processed with wide-dynamic range compression (WDRC) amplification and with linear amplification. In each of those conditions, recognition was measured for syllables containing only temporal information and for syllables containing spectral and temporal information. Recognition of WDRC-amplified speech provided an estimate of the ability to use altered amplitude envelope cues. Syllables were presented with a high-frequency masker to minimize confounding differences in high-frequency sensitivity between the younger and older groups. Scores were lower for WDRC-amplified speech than for linearly amplified speech, and older listeners performed more poorly than younger listeners. When spectral information was unrestricted, the age-related decrement was similar for both amplification types. When spectral information was restricted for listeners with normal hearing, the age-related decrement was greater for WDRC-amplified speech than for linearly amplified speech. When spectral information was restricted for listeners with hearing loss, the age-related decrement was similar for both amplification types. Clinically, these results imply that when spectral cues are available (i.e., when the listener has adequate spectral resolution) older listeners can use WDRC hearing aids to the same extent as younger listeners. For older listeners without hearing loss, poorer scores for compression-amplified speech suggest an age-related deficit in temporal resolution.

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