Research Article  |   June 2012
Effect of Rate-Alteration on Speech Perception in Noise in Older Adults With Normal Hearing and Hearing Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Susan Gordon-Hickey
    University of South Alabama, Mobile
  • Holly Morlas
    University of South Alabama, Mobile
  • Robert Moore
    University of South Alabama, Mobile
  • Correspondence to Elizabeth M. Adams: eadams@usouthal.edu
  • Editor: Sheila Pratt
    Editor: Sheila Pratt×
  • Associate Editor: Jeffrey DiGiovanni
    Associate Editor: Jeffrey DiGiovanni×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Article
Research Article   |   June 2012
Effect of Rate-Alteration on Speech Perception in Noise in Older Adults With Normal Hearing and Hearing Impairment
American Journal of Audiology, June 2012, Vol. 21, 22-32. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2011/10-0023)
History: Received June 29, 2010 , Accepted November 2, 2011
 
American Journal of Audiology, June 2012, Vol. 21, 22-32. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2011/10-0023)
History: Received June 29, 2010; Accepted November 2, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of using slow and fast speaking rates in competing noise on older adults with normal hearing (NH) and those with hearing impairment (HI).

Method: Thirty-four older adults (56–85 years) were grouped based on hearing ability—NH (N = 15) and HI (N = 19). Rate-altered Quick Speech-in-Noise Test (QuickSIN; Etymotic Research, 2001) stimuli were presented at 3 speech rates (slow, average, and fast), and the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) loss was calculated for each.

Results: The older participants with HI had significantly higher SNR loss than the NH participants at all 3 speech rates. The NH participants showed improved speech perception in noise when a slow rate of speech was used. This benefit was not observed for the participants with HI. Both groups performed poorly with the fastest speech rate.

Conclusion: Results suggest that older adults with HI who are not wearing hearing aids are not able to take advantage of additional processing time afforded by the use of slow speaking rates when speech (70–75 dB HL) is presented in competing noise. Additionally, the use of a fast speaking rate significantly reduces an individual’s ability to perceive speech in noise, regardless of hearing status. Decreasing from a fast speaking rate to an average rate is beneficial and should be recommended by audiologists to increase the likelihood of older adults understanding speech in noise.

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