Autonomic Nervous System Responses to Hearing-Related Demand and Evaluative Threat Purpose This paper consists of 2 parts. The purpose of Part 1 was to review the potential influence of internal (person-related) factors on listening effort. The purpose of Part 2 was to present, in support of Part 1, preliminary data illustrating the interactive effects of an external factor (task demand) ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 12, 2017
Autonomic Nervous System Responses to Hearing-Related Demand and Evaluative Threat
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol L. Mackersie
    San Diego State University, CA
  • Lucia Kearney
    San Diego State University, CA
  • 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 Carol L. Mackersie: cmackers@mail.sdsu.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar
    Editor-in-Chief: Sumitrajit Dhar×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Issue: Select Papers From the Hearing Across the Lifespan (HEAL) 2016 Conference / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 12, 2017
Autonomic Nervous System Responses to Hearing-Related Demand and Evaluative Threat
American Journal of Audiology, October 2017, Vol. 26, 373-377. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0133
History: Received December 26, 2016 , Revised May 6, 2017 , Accepted May 16, 2017
 
American Journal of Audiology, October 2017, Vol. 26, 373-377. doi:10.1044/2017_AJA-16-0133
History: Received December 26, 2016; Revised May 6, 2017; Accepted May 16, 2017

Purpose This paper consists of 2 parts. The purpose of Part 1 was to review the potential influence of internal (person-related) factors on listening effort. The purpose of Part 2 was to present, in support of Part 1, preliminary data illustrating the interactive effects of an external factor (task demand) and an internal factor (evaluative threat) on autonomic nervous system measures.

Method For Part 1, we provided a brief narrative review of motivation and stress as modulators of listening effort. For Part 2, we described preliminary data from a study using a repeated-measures (2 × 2) design involving manipulations of task demand (high, low) and evaluative threat (high, low). The low-demand task consisted of repetition of sentences from a narrative. The high-demand task consisted of answering questions about the narrative, requiring both comprehension and recall. During the high evaluative threat condition, participants were filmed and told that their video recordings would be evaluated by a panel of experts. During the low evaluative threat condition, no filming occurred; participants were instructed to “do your best.” Skin conductance (sympathetic nervous system activity) and heart rate variability (HRV, parasympathetic activity) were measured during the listening tasks. The HRV measure was the root mean square of successive differences of adjacent interbeat intervals. Twelve adults with hearing loss participated.

Results Skin conductance increased and HRV decreased relative to baseline (no task) for all listening conditions. Skin conductance increased significantly with an increase in evaluative threat, but only for the more demanding task. There was no significant change in HRV in response to increasing evaluative threat or task demand.

Conclusions Listening effort may be influenced by factors other than task difficulty, as reviewed in Part 1. This idea is supported by the preliminary data indicating that the sympathetic nervous system response to task demand is modulated by social evaluative threat. More work is needed to determine the relative contributions of motivation and emotional stress on physiological responses during listening tasks.

Acknowledgment
The work was supported by funding from NIDCD 1R21DC015046 to San Diego State University.
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