Detecting and Learning New Words: The Impact of Advancing Age and Hearing Loss Purpose Lexical acquisition was examined in children and adults to determine if the skills needed to detect and learn new words are retained in the adult years. In addition to advancing age, the effects of hearing loss were also examined. Method Measures of word recognition, detection of nonsense ... Research Article
Research Article  |   September 18, 2017
Detecting and Learning New Words: The Impact of Advancing Age and Hearing Loss
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrea L. Pittman
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Elizabeth C. Stewart
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Ian S. Odgear
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Amanda P. Willman
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Andrea Pittman: andrea.pittman@asu.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar
    Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar×
  • Editor: Lauren Calandruccio
    Editor: Lauren Calandruccio×
Article Information
Development / Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   September 18, 2017
Detecting and Learning New Words: The Impact of Advancing Age and Hearing Loss
American Journal of Audiology, September 2017, Vol. 26, 318-327. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-17-0025
History: Received March 8, 2017 , Revised May 5, 2017 , Accepted May 10, 2017
 
American Journal of Audiology, September 2017, Vol. 26, 318-327. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-17-0025
History: Received March 8, 2017; Revised May 5, 2017; Accepted May 10, 2017

Purpose Lexical acquisition was examined in children and adults to determine if the skills needed to detect and learn new words are retained in the adult years. In addition to advancing age, the effects of hearing loss were also examined.

Method Measures of word recognition, detection of nonsense words within sentences, and novel word learning were obtained in quiet for 20 children with normal hearing and 21 with hearing loss (8–12 years) as well as for 15 adults with normal hearing and 17 with hearing loss (58–79 years). Listeners with hearing loss were tested with and without high-frequency acoustic energy to identify the type of amplification (narrowband, wideband, or frequency lowering) that yielded optimal performance.

Results No differences were observed between the adults and children with normal hearing except for the adults' better nonsense word detection. The poorest performance was observed for the listeners with hearing loss in the unaided condition. Performance improved significantly with amplification to levels at or near that of their counterparts with normal hearing. With amplification, the adults performed as well as the children on all tasks except for word recognition.

Conclusions Adults retain the skills necessary for lexical acquisition regardless of hearing status. However, uncorrected hearing loss nearly eliminates these skills.

Acknowledgments
Funding for this project was received through a grant awarded to the first author from the Hearing Industry Research Consortium. We are grateful to the staff and students working in the Pediatric Amplification Laboratory at Arizona State University, including Ashley Wright and Emily Venskytis, as well as the generous support, expertise, and resources of Stefan Launer, Brent Edwards, Graham Naylor, Joel Beilin, Andrew Dittberner, and Lars Sunesen. The authors would also like to thank the children and adults who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in this project.
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