The effect of interaural intensity cues and expectations of target location on word identification in multi-talker scenes for younger and older adults
Research on word identification in binaural conditions usually examines auditory abilities in simple, static environments. Research on attention usually examines cognitive abilities to divide and switch attention between multiple stimuli in more complex and dynamic scenes. To investigate cognitive-auditory interactions in uencing age-related differences in listening in complex situations, we tested younger and older listeners’ abilities to identify target words in conditions where we manipulated the availability of interaural cues and expectations concerning the likelihood of the target being heard at a primary location. Interaural cues were manipulated by presenting the target and two competing sentences from different loudspeakers (real spatial separation) or from three perceived locations induced using the precedence effect (simulated spatial separation). Prior to the presentation of a target, the listener was cued for the probability (1.0, 0.8, 0.6, 0.33) of it being presented at the primary location. Younger adults outperformed older adults and performance was better when the target was presented at the expected location. Eliminating interaural intensity cues had no effect when targets occurred at the expected location, but performance was reduced when the targets were presented at less expected locations. For both age groups, rich interaural cues enhance attention in dynamic listening environments.
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