It has been shown that noise reduction algorithms can reduce the negative effects of noise on memory processing in persons with normal hearing. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether a similar effect can be obtained for persons with hearing impairment and whether such an effect is dependent on individual differences in working memory capacity.
A sentence-final word identification and recall (SWIR) test was conducted in two noise backgrounds with and without noise reduction as well as in quiet. Working memory capacity was measured using a reading span (RS) test.
Twenty-six experienced hearing-aid users with moderate to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss.
Noise impaired recall performance. Competing speech disrupted memory performance more than speech-shaped noise. For late list items the disruptive effect of the competing speech background was virtually cancelled out by noise reduction for persons with high working memory capacity.
Noise reduction can reduce the adverse effect of noise on memory for speech for persons with good working memory capacity. We argue that the mechanism behind this is faster word identification that enhances encoding into working memory.