Gated auditory speech perception in elderly hearing aid users and elderly normal-hearing individuals: effects of hearing impairment and cognitive capacity.Trends Hear. 2014 Jul 31; 18TH
This study compared elderly hearing aid (EHA) users and elderly normal-hearing (ENH) individuals on identification of auditory speech stimuli (consonants, words, and final word in sentences) that were different when considering their linguistic properties. We measured the accuracy with which the target speech stimuli were identified, as well as the isolation points (IPs: the shortest duration, from onset, required to correctly identify the speech target). The relationships between working memory capacity, the IPs, and speech accuracy were also measured. Twenty-four EHA users (with mild to moderate hearing impairment) and 24 ENH individuals participated in the present study. Despite the use of their regular hearing aids, the EHA users had delayed IPs and were less accurate in identifying consonants and words compared with the ENH individuals. The EHA users also had delayed IPs for final word identification in sentences with lower predictability; however, no significant between-group difference in accuracy was observed. Finally, there were no significant between-group differences in terms of IPs or accuracy for final word identification in highly predictable sentences. Our results also showed that, among EHA users, greater working memory capacity was associated with earlier IPs and improved accuracy in consonant and word identification. Together, our findings demonstrate that the gated speech perception ability of EHA users was not at the level of ENH individuals, in terms of IPs and accuracy. In addition, gated speech perception was more cognitively demanding for EHA users than for ENH individuals in the absence of semantic context.