Associations between pre-stimulus alpha power, hearing level and performance in a digits-in-noise task

Sara Alhanbali*, Kevin J. Munro, Piers Dawes, Emanuele Perugia, Rebecca E. Millman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Baseline electroencephalography (EEG) alpha power, i.e. that measured prior to stimulus presentation, is a potential objective predictor of task performance. Here we assessed the predictive power of EEG alpha on performance accuracy in a digits-in-noise recognition task, factoring in hearing thresholds and age. 

Design: EEG alpha power, recorded while participants listened to target digits presented in a noise background, was analysed during two different baseline periods: i) a pre-stimulus baseline (pre-STIM) free from any acoustic stimulus, and ii) a pre-target baseline (pre-TARG) recorded in background noise only. 

Study sample: Eighty-five participants with either normal hearing or aided hearing impairment (age range: 55–85 years old, 42 male). 

Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that i) lower hearing thresholds and, to a lesser extent, higher pre-STIM alpha power were associated with improved performance accuracy ii) alpha power in pre-STIM and pre-TARG were highly correlated across individuals but pre-TARG alpha power was not a significant predictor of performance accuracy. 

Conclusion: Investigations of baseline EEG alpha power as a predictor of speech-in-noise performance accuracy should control for associations between hearing thresholds and measures of EEG baseline periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • behavioural measures
  • speech perception
  • EEG
  • alpha power
  • speech-in-noise
  • performance accuracy
  • listening effort


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