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Publication Detail
The effect of ageing on auditory scene analysis: evidence from a change detection paradigm
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Le Gal De Kerangal M
  • Date awarded:
  • Supervisors:
    Chait M,Vickers D
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
The ability to detect the disappearance of a source in complex auditory scenes is essential in daily situations. Disappearance detection has been studied in the young population but less is known about the effect of age on this ability. We used a change detection paradigm, where listeners had to concurrently monitor six streams of tones — each characterised by a unique carrier frequency and temporal pattern — and listen out for the disappearance of one of them. Two groups of young (20–35) and older (60–86) adults with good hearing were tested. Additional profile measures targeting hearing acuity, speech perception, auditory and visual sustained attention were also collected. The study examined two aspects of scene analysis via the change detection paradigm. First, the sensitivity to sound temporal predictability was investigated by comparing change detection performance on scenes comprising randomly patterned vs. regular streams. Whilst the older participants performed significantly worse than the younger listeners in the “random” condition, there was no difference between groups in the “regular” condition. This suggests that the mechanisms related to the use of temporal predictability are relatively preserved with age. Second, the effect of age on auditory distraction was investigated by adding a brief distractor sound at the same time as the disappearance. The distractor degraded change detection in both groups. However, an increase in criterion was only observed for the older group, demonstrating an inhibitory effect of the distractor specific to older age. Focusing on the older group only, none of the studies found significant correlations between change detection performance and major indicators used in clinics (age, audiometric measures or speech perception). However, change detection consistently correlated with measures of auditory sustained attention suggesting that measures of attentive abilities are critical for understanding how hearing in crowded environments is affected by healthy ageing.
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