On-beat rhythm and speech-in-noise perception in older adults with hearing aids
Presenter Name:Chi Yhun, Lo
School/Affiliation:Toronto Metropolitan University
Co-Authors:Ella, Dubinsky; Kay, Wright-Whyte; Gurjit, Singh; Frank, Russo
Deafness and hearing loss affects more than 1.5 billion people globally, and ~1 million Canadians. Communication challenges lead to increased risk of depression, loneliness, social isolation, and poorer quality of life compared to their normal-hearing peers.
As we enter the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030), exploring ways to improve the lives of older people—who are disproportionately affected by presbycusis (age-related hearing loss)—is a priority. Research suggests that musical activities such as singing may enhance speech-in-noise (SIN) outcomes.
- Examine the baseline correlates of older adults with hearing aids (HAs) enrolled in a choir intervention.
- Identify cues that may support better communication and SIN outcomes, such as cognition (working memory) and music perception (pitch, rhythm, timbre).
Forty-two adults aged between 57 and 90 years (M = 73.5 years, 28 female and 14 male) with a moderate/moderately-severe bilateral hearing loss (M = 46.9 dB HL).
Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), QuickSIN (speech-in-noise test), and the Beat Alignment Test (BAT).
As expected, there was a statistically significant correlation between cognitive scores and SIN perception, r(40) = -.55, p<.01.
There was a statistically significant correlation between on-beat rhythm and SIN, r(40) = -.44, p<.01.
These findings suggest on-beat rhythm may support SIN perception for older adult HA users. While this association has been found in young adults with normal hearing; to the best of our knowledge, this has not been reported for older adults with HAs.
Due to hearing loss reducing fine-frequency perception (but not rhythmic abilities), tasks that leverage rhythm may be particularly effective for interventions and rehabilitation.