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J Acoust Soc Am. 1986 Dec;80(6):1589-98.

Consonant recognition in quiet and in noise with aging among normal hearing listeners.


Consonant recognition in quiet and in noise was investigated as a function of age for essentially normal hearing listeners 21-68 years old, using the nonsense syllable test (NST) [Resnick et al., J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Suppl. 1 58, S114 (1975)]. The subjects audited the materials in quiet and at S/N ratios of +10 and +5 dB at their most comfortable listening levels (MCLs). The MCLs approximated conversational speech levels and were not significantly different between the age groups. The effects of age group, S/N condition (quiet, S/N +10, S/N +5) and NST subsets, and the S/N condition X subset interaction were all significant. Interactions involving the age factor were nonsignificant. Confusion matrices were similar across age groups, including the directions of errors between the most frequently confused phonemes. Also, the older subjects experienced performance decrements on the same features that were least accurately recognized by the younger subjects. The findings suggest that essentially normal older persons listening in quiet and in noise experience decreased consonant recognition ability, but that the nature of their phoneme confusions is similar to that of younger individuals. Even though the older subjects met the same selection criteria as did younger ones, there was an expected shift upward in auditory thresholds with age within these limits. Sensitivity at 8000 Hz was correlated with NST scores in noise when controlling for age, but the correlation between performance in noise and age was nonsignificant when controlling for the 8000-Hz threshold. These associations seem to implicate the phenomena underlying the increased 8000-Hz thresholds in the speech recognition problems of the elderly, and appear to support the concept of peripheral auditory deterioration with aging even among those with essentially normal hearing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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