Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Aging. 2002 Sep;17(3):453-67.

Distraction by competing speech in young and older adult listeners.

Author information

Department of Psychology and Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454-9110, USA.


In 2 experiments, young and older adults heard target speech presented in quiet or with a competing speaker in the background. The distractor consisted either of meaningful speech or nonmeaningful speech composed of randomly ordered word strings (Experiment 1) or speech in an unfamiliar language (Experiment 2). Tests of recall for the target speech showed that older adults, but not younger adults, were impaired more by meaningful distractors than by nonmeaningful distracters. However, on a surprise recognition test, young adults were more likely than older adults to recognize meaningful distractor items. These results suggest that reduced efficiency in attentional control is an important factor in older adults' difficulty in recalling target speech in the presence of a background of competing speech.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center