Normal Adult Aging and the Contextual Influences Affecting Speech and Meaningful Sound Perception
Trends in Amplification
It is widely accepted that hearing loss increases markedly with age, beginning in the fourth decade ISO 7029 (2000). Age-related hearing loss is typified by high-frequency threshold elevation and associated reductions in speech perception because speech sounds, especially consonants, become inaudible. Nevertheless, older adults often report additional and progressive difficulties in the perception and comprehension of speech, often highlighted in adverse listening conditions that exceed those
... ported by younger adults with a similar degree of high-frequency hearing loss (Dubno, Dirks, & Morgan) leading to communication difficulties and social isolation (Weinstein & Ventry). Some of the age-related decline in speech perception can be accounted for by peripheral sensory problems but cognitive aging can also be a contributing factor. In this article, we review findings from the psycholinguistic literature predominantly over the last four years and present a pilot study illustrating how normal agerelated changes in cognition and the linguistic context can influence speech-processing difficulties in older adults. For significant progress in understanding and improving the auditory performance of aging listeners to be made, we discuss how future research will have to be much more specific not only about which interactions between auditory and cognitive abilities are critical but also how they are modulated in the brain.