Speech Recognition Across the Life Span: Longitudinal Changes From Middle-Age to Older Adults Purpose The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of evidence of age-related declines in speech recognition in middle age to older adulthood; to review contributions of pure-tone thresholds, age, and gender; and to report preliminary results from a longitudinal study. Method Pure-tone thresholds and word ... Research Forum
Research Forum  |   June 01, 2015
Speech Recognition Across the Life Span: Longitudinal Changes From Middle-Age to Older Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judy R. Dubno
    Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Judy R. Dubno: dubnojr@musc.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes
    Editor and Associate Editor: Larry Humes×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Research Forum: Changes in Sensory Perception in Middle-Aged Adults
Research Forum   |   June 01, 2015
Speech Recognition Across the Life Span: Longitudinal Changes From Middle-Age to Older Adults
American Journal of Audiology, June 2015, Vol. 24, 84-87. doi:10.1044/2015_AJA-14-0052
History: Received October 9, 2014 , Revised November 18, 2014 , Accepted November 21, 2014
 
American Journal of Audiology, June 2015, Vol. 24, 84-87. doi:10.1044/2015_AJA-14-0052
History: Received October 9, 2014; Revised November 18, 2014; Accepted November 21, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of evidence of age-related declines in speech recognition in middle age to older adulthood; to review contributions of pure-tone thresholds, age, and gender; and to report preliminary results from a longitudinal study.

Method Pure-tone thresholds and word recognition in quiet and babble are being measured in a large sample of adults yearly or every 2 to 3 years. Analyses included >16,000 audiograms and speech recognition scores from >1,200 adults whose ages ranged from the 40s to the 90s. A multivariable generalized linear repeated mixed model assessed changes in thresholds and speech recognition over time.

Results Word recognition in quiet declined significantly while controlling for threshold increases, and declines appeared to accelerate near ages 65 to 70 years. Scores for men were poorer than those for women even after controlling for gender differences in thresholds, but rates of decline did not differ by gender. Smaller declines in key word recognition in babble were observed, and declines appeared to accelerate near ages 75 to 80 years.

Conclusions Additional evidence is needed from large-scale longitudinal cohort studies to determine rates of change of auditory function across the life span. These studies can identify associations with modifiable risk factors and potential mechanisms to reduce, to prevent, or to delay the onset of age-related hearing loss.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant P50 DC000422 and the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute, with an academic home at the Medical University of South Carolina, through National Institutes of Health Grant UL1 TR000062. This investigation was conducted in a facility constructed with support from National Center for Research Resources Research Facilities Improvement Program Grant C06 RR14516. The contributions of co-investigators Jayne B. Ahlstrom, Mark A. Eckert, Lois J. Matthews, and Annie Simpson are gratefully acknowledged, along with Emily Franko-Tobin and research audiologists.
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