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Selective attention modulates neural envelope tracking of informationally masked speech in healthy older adults


Kurthen, Ira; Galbier, Jolanda; Jagoda, Laura; Neuschwander, Pia; Giroud, Nathalie; Meyer, Martin (2021). Selective attention modulates neural envelope tracking of informationally masked speech in healthy older adults. Human Brain Mapping:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Speech understanding in noisy situations is compromised in old age. This study investigated the energetic and informational masking components of multi-talker babble noise and their influence on neural tracking of the speech envelope in a sample of healthy older adults. Twenty-three older adults (age range 65-80 years) listened to an audiobook embedded in noise while their electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Energetic masking was manipulated by varying the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) between target speech and background talkers and informational masking was manipulated by varying the number of background talkers. Neural envelope tracking was measured by calculating temporal response functions (TRFs) between speech envelope and EEG. Number of background talkers, but not SNR modulated the amplitude of an earlier (around 50 ms time lag) and a later (around 300 ms time lag) peak in the TRFs. Selective attention, but not working memory or peripheral hearing additionally modulated the amplitude of the later TRF peak. Finally, amplitude of the later TRF peak was positively related to accuracy in the comprehension task. The results suggest that stronger envelope tracking is beneficial for speech-in-noise understanding and that selective attention is an important ability supporting speech-in-noise understanding in multi-talker scenes.

Abstract

Speech understanding in noisy situations is compromised in old age. This study investigated the energetic and informational masking components of multi-talker babble noise and their influence on neural tracking of the speech envelope in a sample of healthy older adults. Twenty-three older adults (age range 65-80 years) listened to an audiobook embedded in noise while their electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Energetic masking was manipulated by varying the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) between target speech and background talkers and informational masking was manipulated by varying the number of background talkers. Neural envelope tracking was measured by calculating temporal response functions (TRFs) between speech envelope and EEG. Number of background talkers, but not SNR modulated the amplitude of an earlier (around 50 ms time lag) and a later (around 300 ms time lag) peak in the TRFs. Selective attention, but not working memory or peripheral hearing additionally modulated the amplitude of the later TRF peak. Finally, amplitude of the later TRF peak was positively related to accuracy in the comprehension task. The results suggest that stronger envelope tracking is beneficial for speech-in-noise understanding and that selective attention is an important ability supporting speech-in-noise understanding in multi-talker scenes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
08 Research Priority Programs > Dynamics of Healthy Aging
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Anatomy
Health Sciences > Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
Health Sciences > Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging
Life Sciences > Neurology
Health Sciences > Neurology (clinical)
Language:English
Date:30 March 2021
Deposited On:14 Apr 2021 08:08
Last Modified:19 Apr 2021 11:02
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1065-9471
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.25415
PubMed ID:33783913
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID105319_169964
  • : Project TitleSpeech Intelligibility and Perception in Older Adults At the Interaction of Aging, Cognition, Tinnitus, and Hearing Loss
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDP0ZHP1_172268
  • : Project TitleHearing loss and cognition in old age: A fine-grained investigation of speech processing under adverse listening conditions

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