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Older adults’ neural tracking of interrupted speech is a function of task difficulty


Kurthen, Ira; Christen, Allison; Meyer, Martin; Giroud, Nathalie (2022). Older adults’ neural tracking of interrupted speech is a function of task difficulty. NeuroImage, 262:119580.

Abstract

Age-related hearing loss is a highly prevalent condition, which manifests at both the auditory periphery and the brain. It leads to degraded auditory input, which needs to be repaired in order to achieve understanding of spoken language. It is still unclear how older adults with this condition draw on their neural resources to optimally process speech. By presenting interrupted speech to 26 healthy older adults with normal-for-age audiograms, this study investigated neural tracking of degraded auditory input. The electroencephalograms of the participants were recorded while they first listened to and then verbally repeated sentences interrupted by silence in varying interruption rates. Speech tracking was measured by inter-trial phase coherence in response to the stimuli. In interruption rates that corresponded to the theta frequency band, speech tracking was highly specific to the interruption rate and positively related to the understanding of interrupted speech. These results suggest that older adults’ brain activity optimizes through the tracking of stimulus characteristics, and that this tracking aids in processing an incomplete auditory stimulus. Further investigation of speech tracking as a candidate training mechanism to alleviate age-related hearing loss is thus encouraged.

Abstract

Age-related hearing loss is a highly prevalent condition, which manifests at both the auditory periphery and the brain. It leads to degraded auditory input, which needs to be repaired in order to achieve understanding of spoken language. It is still unclear how older adults with this condition draw on their neural resources to optimally process speech. By presenting interrupted speech to 26 healthy older adults with normal-for-age audiograms, this study investigated neural tracking of degraded auditory input. The electroencephalograms of the participants were recorded while they first listened to and then verbally repeated sentences interrupted by silence in varying interruption rates. Speech tracking was measured by inter-trial phase coherence in response to the stimuli. In interruption rates that corresponded to the theta frequency band, speech tracking was highly specific to the interruption rate and positively related to the understanding of interrupted speech. These results suggest that older adults’ brain activity optimizes through the tracking of stimulus characteristics, and that this tracking aids in processing an incomplete auditory stimulus. Further investigation of speech tracking as a candidate training mechanism to alleviate age-related hearing loss is thus encouraged.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
06 Faculty of Arts > Zurich Center for Linguistics
Special Collections > Centers of Competence > Competence Centre Language and Medicine Zurich
06 Faculty of Arts > Linguistic Research Infrastructure (LiRI)
Dewey Decimal Classification:400 Language
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Neurology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive Neuroscience, Neurology
Language:English
Date:1 November 2022
Deposited On:07 Jan 2023 07:24
Last Modified:28 Apr 2024 01:42
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119580
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)