Timing of turn taking between normal-hearing and hearing-impaired interlocutors
Having a conversation requires more resources than just understanding speech. Previous studies of the timing of turn taking in conversations suggest that in order to sustain normal, fluid turn taking, interlocutors have to predict the end of each other’s turns. Thus, while noise and hearing loss should make understanding speech more difficult, it should also reduce the resources available for speech planning and possibly reduce the saliency of cues used to predict turn ends, resulting in delayed and more variable turn taking. We recorded conversations between 12 pairs of native-Danish young normal-hearing (NH) and older hearing-impaired (HI) listeners with mild presbyacusis in quiet and multitalker babble at three levels. The interlocutors conducted a Diapix task, finding differences in two near-identical pictures. Both HI and NH talkers responded more slowly and with more variability with increasing noise level, and the HI with more variability than the NH. We saw indications that the younger NH adopted a more careful communication strategy, likely to ease the effort on their older HI interlocutor, by adapting their speech rates to their interlocutor and overlapping less.
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