Older listeners' decreased flexibility in adjusting to changes in speech signal reliability

Laurence Bruggeman, Esther Janse

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Under noise or speech reductions, young adult listeners flexibly adjust the parameters of lexical activation and competition to allow for speech signal unreliability. Consequently, mismatches in the input are treated more leniently such that lexical candidates are not immediately deactivated. Using eyetracking, we assessed whether this modulation of recognition dynamics also occurs for older listeners. Dutch participants (aged 60+) heard Dutch sentences containing a critical word while viewing displays of four line drawings. The name of one picture shared either onset or rhyme with the critical word (i.e., was a phonological competitor). Sentences were either clear and noise-free, or had several phonemes replaced by bursts of noise. A larger preference for onset competitors than for rhyme competitors was observed in both clear and noise conditions; performance did not alter across condition. This suggests that dynamic adjustment of spoken-word recognition parameters in response to noise is less available to older listeners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
Editors The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherInternational Phonetic Association
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780852619414
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational congress of phonetic sciences (18th : 2015) - Glasgow, UK
Duration: 10 Aug 201514 Aug 2015


ConferenceInternational congress of phonetic sciences (18th : 2015)
CityGlasgow, UK

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. 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.


  • spoken-word recognition
  • aging
  • processing dynamics
  • hearing loss


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