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Journal Article

Processing of fast speech by elderly listeners


Janse,  Esther
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Mechanisms and Representations in Comprehending Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS, Utrecht University;

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Janse, E. (2009). Processing of fast speech by elderly listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125(4), 2361-2373. doi:10.1121/1.3082117.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-25CA-3
This study investigates the relative contributions of auditory and cognitive factors to the common finding that an increase in speech rate affects elderly listeners more than young listeners. Since a direct relation between non-auditory factors, such as age-related cognitive slowing, and fast speech performance has been difficult to demonstrate, the present study took an on-line, rather than off-line, approach and focused on processing time. Elderly and young listeners were presented with speech at two rates of time compression and were asked to detect pre-assigned target words as quickly as possible. A number of auditory and cognitive measures were entered in a statistical model as predictors of elderly participants’ fast speech performance: hearing acuity, an information processing rate measure, and two measures of reading speed. The results showed that hearing loss played a primary role in explaining elderly listeners’ increased difficulty with fast speech. However, non-auditory factors such as reading speed and the extent to which participants were affected by
increased rate of presentation in a visual analog of the listening experiment also predicted fast
speech performance differences among the elderly participants. These on-line results confirm that slowed information processing is indeed part of elderly listeners’ problem keeping up with fast language