Beyond the audiogram: Influence of supra-threshold deficits associated with hearing loss and age on speech intelligibility
Sensorineural hearing loss and greater age are associated with poor speech intelligibility, especially in the presence of background sounds. The extent to which this is due to reduced audibility or to supra-threshold deficits is still debated. The influence of supra-threshold deficits on intelligibility was investigated for normal-hearing (NH) and hearing-impaired (HI) listeners with high-frequency losses by limiting the effect of audibility. The HI listeners were generally older than the NH listeners. Speech identification was measured using nonsense speech signals filtered into low- and mid-frequency regions, where pure-tone sensitivity was near normal for both groups. The older HI listeners showed mild to severe intelligibility deficits for speech presented in quiet and in various backgrounds (noise or speech). Overall, these results suggest that speech intelligibility can be strongly influenced by supra-threshold auditory deficits.
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