Predictors of supra-threshold speech-in-noise intelligibility by hearing-impaired listeners
The aim was to assess the relative importance of cochlear mechanical dysfunction, temporal processing deficits, and age for hearing-impaired listeners to understand supra-threshold speech in noise backgrounds. 68 hearing-aid candidates took part in the study. Intelligibility was assessed for speech-shaped noise (SSN) and reversed two-talker masker (R2TM) backgrounds. Behavioural estimates of cochlear gain loss and residual compression from a previous study were used as indicators of cochlear mechanical dysfunction. Temporal processing abilities were assessed using frequency modulation detection thresholds. Age, audiometric thresholds, and the difference between audiometric thresholds and cochlear gain loss were also included in the analyses. Stepwise multiple linear regression models of intelligibility were designed to assess the relative importance of the various factors for speech intelligibility. Results showed that (1) cochlear gain loss was unrelated to intelligibility; (2) residual cochlear compression was related to intelligibility in SSN but not in R2TM backgrounds; (3) temporal processing was strongly related to intelligibility in R2TM backgrounds and much less so in SSN backgrounds; (4) age per se hindered intelligibility. We conclude that all factors affect speech intelligibility but their relative importance varies across masker backgrounds.
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