Pitch, rhythm, and working memory contribute to speech-in-noise perception in older adults with hearing aids
Name:Lo, Chi Yhun
School/Affiliation:Toronto Metropolitan University
Co-Authors:Dubinsky, E., Wright-Whyte, K., Zara, M., Singh, G., Russo, F. A.
Virtual or In-person:In-person
Hearing aids are the primary solution for mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss, but have limitations. One area that is particularly challenging is difficulty with speech-in-noise (SIN) tasks. Here, our focus was exploring what music and auditory abilities were associated with better SIN perception.
The aim was to explore how behavioural music factors such as pitch, rhythm, and timbre perception; neurological measures such as frequency-following response (FFR) and cognitive factors such as working memory; may contribute to better SIN perception.
Forty-two older adult hearing aid users with a moderate bilateral hearing loss (M = 47 dB 4FAHL) aged between 57 and 90 years (M = 73.5 years, 28 female and 14 male) participated in this study. All participants passed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) screening for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
We found evidence that better pitch perception (Kendall τb = .187, p = .048), on beat rhythm accuracy (Kendall τb = -.263, p = .046), and working memory (Pearson r = −.651, p < .001) were associated with better SIN perception. To the authors’ best knowledge, the association between on-beat rhythm accuracy and SIN perception has not been previously reported for adults with hearing loss who use hearing aids.
In conclusion, pitch, rhythm, and working memory were associated with better SIN outcomes for older adults with a moderate hearing loss who use hearing aids.