Word-recognition performance in interrupted noise by young listeners with normal hearing and older listeners with hearing loss.J Am Acad Audiol. 2010 Feb; 21(2):90-109.JA
The most common complaint of adults with hearing loss is understanding speech in noise. One class of masker that may be particularly useful in the assessment of speech-in-noise abilities is interrupted noise. Interrupted noise usually is a continuous noise that has been multiplied by a square wave that produces alternating intervals of noise and silence. Wilson and Carhart found that spondaic word thresholds for listeners with normal hearing were 28 dB lower in an interrupted noise than in a continuous noise, whereas listeners with hearing loss experienced only an 11 dB difference.
The purpose of this series of experiments was to determine if a speech-in-interrupted-noise paradigm differentiates better (1) between listeners with normal hearing and listeners with hearing loss and (2) among listeners with hearing loss than do traditional speech-in-continuous-noise tasks.
Four descriptive/quasi-experimental studies were conducted.
Sixty young adults with normal hearing and 144 older adults with pure-tone hearing losses participated.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
A 4.3 sec sample of speech-spectrum noise was constructed digitally to form the 0 interruptions per second (ips; continuous) noise and the 5, 10, and 20 ips noises with 50% duty cycles. The noise samples were mixed digitally with the Northwestern University Auditory Test No. 6 words at selected signal-to-noise ratios and recorded on CD. The materials were presented through an earphone, and the responses were recorded and analyzed at the word level. Similar techniques were used for the stimuli in the remaining experiments.
In Experiment 1, using 0 ips as the reference condition, the listeners with normal hearing achieved 34.0, 30.2, and 28.4 dB escape from masking for 5, 10, and 20 ips, respectively. In contrast, the listeners with hearing loss only achieved 2.1 to 2.4 dB escape from masking. Experiment 2 studied the 0 and 5 ips conditions on 72 older listeners with hearing loss, who were on average 13 yr younger and more varied in their hearing loss than the listeners in Experiment 1. The mean escape from masking in Experiment 2 was 7dB, which is 20-25 dB less than the escape achieved by listeners with normal hearing. Experiment 3 examined the effects that duty cycle (0-100% in 10% steps) had on recognition performance in the 5 and 10 ips conditions. On the 12 young listeners with normal hearing, (1) the 50% correct point increased almost linearly between the 0 and 60% duty cycles (slope = 4.2 dB per 10% increase in duty cycle), (2) the slope of the function was steeper between 60 and 80% duty cycles, and (3) about the same masking was achieved for the 80-100% duty cycles. The data from the listeners with hearing loss were inconclusive. Experiment 4 varied the interburst ratios (0, -6, -12, -24, -48, and -infinity dB) of 5 ips noise and evaluated recognition performance by 24 young adults. The 50% points were described by a linear regression (R2 = 0.98) with a slope of 0.55 dB/dB.
The current data indicate that interrupted noise does provide a better differentiation both between listeners with normal hearing and listeners with hearing loss and among listeners with hearing loss than is provided by continuous noise.