Subjective listening effort and electrodermal activity in listening situations with reverberation and noise
Disturbing factors like reverberation or ambient noise can obstruct speech recognition and raise the listening effort needed for communication in daily life. Situations with high listening effort are considered to incur an increased stress for the listener. The aim of this study was to assess listening effort in situations with background noise and reverberation. For this purpose, a subjective scaling of the listening effort, together with the electrodermal activity (EDA) as a measure of the autonomic stress reaction, was used. Ten young normal-hearing (NH) and 17 elderly hearing-impaired (HI) participants listened to sentences from the Oldenburg sentence test in stationary background noise and reverberation. Four listening situations were generated, an easy and a hard one for each of the two disturbing factors, which were related to each other by the Speech Transmission Index (STI). The results of the subjective scaling showed significant differences between the easy and the hard listening situations in both subject groups. However, various analyses of the EDA values indicate differences between the results of the groups. For the NH listeners, similar tendencies were observed both in the subjective results and the physiological EDA data. For the HI listeners, these effects in the EDA data were less pronounced.
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