The relationship between temporal and spectral processing of sound and self-reported hearing difficulty in older adults with sensori-neural hearing loss
Impairments to the temporal and spectral processing of sound contribute to difficulties in understanding speech, and likely contribute to the large variability in hearing aid outcomes of older adults with sensori-neural hearing loss (SNHL). We measured sensitivity to temporal fine structure (TFS), gap detection thresholds, and masked thresholds for frequency resolution in 80 older adults with bilateral symmetrical SNHL. Performance on the three psychoacoustic tests was not strongly correlated, and estimates of temporal and frequency resolution were not associated with patient self reports of hearing difficulty. However, listeners with good sensitivity to TFS were found to experience significantly greater confidence in their abilities on the spatial hearing and sound quality self- report scenarios than those listeners with poor sensitivity to TFS. These results indicate that the structures and mechanisms underlying temporal and spectral processing are independent, and that sensitivity to TFS is likely to contribute to a patient’s experience of his/her hearing difficulties.
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