Influence of Hearing Loss on Children’s Identification of Spondee Words in a Speech-Shaped Noise or a Two-Talker Masker

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Abstract

Objective:

This study evaluated the influence of hearing loss on children’s speech-perception abilities in a speech-shaped noise or a two-talker masker. For both masker conditions, it was predicted that children with hearing loss would require a more advantageous signal to noise ratio (SNR) than children with normal hearing to achieve the same criterion level of performance. However, it was hypothesized that the performance gap between children with hearing loss and children with normal hearing would be larger in the two-talker than in the speech-shaped noise masker.

Design:

A repeated-measures design compared the spondee identification performance of two age groups of children with hearing loss (9–11 and 13–17 years of age) and a group of children with normal hearing (9–11 years of age) in continuous speech-shaped noise or a two-talker masker. Estimates of the SNR required for 70.7% correct spondee identification were obtained using an adaptive, four-alternative, forced-choice procedure. Children were tested in the sound field. Children with hearing loss wore their personal hearing aids at their regular settings during testing.

Results:

Both groups of children with hearing loss performed more poorly than children with normal hearing in the speech-shaped noise masker. Younger children required an additional 2.7 dB SNR and older children required an additional 4.7 dB SNR to achieve the same level of performance as children with normal hearing. This disadvantage decreased to 8.1 dB for both age groups of children with hearing loss in the two-talker masker. For children with hearing loss, degree of hearing loss was significantly correlated with performance in the speech-shaped noise masker, but not in the two-talker masker.

Conclusions:

A larger performance gap was observed between children with hearing loss and children with normal hearing in competing speech than in steady state noise. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that hearing loss influenced children’s perceptual processing abilities.

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