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How age affects auditory-cognitive interactions in speech comprehension

DOI: 10.4081/audiores.2011.e10

Keywords: hearing , speech , cognition , speech understanding , speech comprehension.

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Abstract:

To participate effectively in multi-talker conversations, listeners need to do more than simply recognize and repeat speech. They have to keep track of who said what, extract the meaning of each utterance, store it in memory for future use, integrate the incoming information with what each conversational participant has said in the past, and draw on the listener’s own knowledge of the topic under consideration to extract general themes and formulate responses. In other words, to acquire and use the information contained in spoken language requires the smooth and rapid functioning of an integrated system of perceptual and cognitive processes. Here we review evidence indicating that the operation of this integrated system of perceptual and cognitive processes is more easily disrupted in older than in younger adults, especially when there are competing sounds in the auditory scene.

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