The Effect of Asymmetrical Signal Degradation on Binaural Speech Recognition in Children and Adults

Rothpletz, Ann M.; Tharpe, Anne Marie; Grantham, D. Wesley
April 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p269
Academic Journal
To determine the effect of asymmetrical signal degradation on binaural speech recognition, 28 children and 14 adults were administered a sentence recognition task amidst multitalker babble. There were 3 listening conditions: (a) monaural, with mild degradation in 1 ear; (b) binaural, with mild degradation in both ears (symmetric degradation); and (c) binaural, with mild degradation in one ear and severe degradation in the other ear (asymmetric degradation). Sentences and babble were degraded digitally to simulate mild and severe cochlear hearing loss. All participants demonstrated significant binaural advantage (average of 7 dB) when listening to symmetrically degraded signals as compared to when listening monaurally. In contrast, adults and children achieved little or no binaural benefit, on average, when listening to asymmetrically degraded signals. More-over, overall performance of the adults was significantly worse when listening to binaural asymmetrically degraded signals than when listening to monaural signals, thus demonstrating evidence of binaural interference. In contrast to our original speculations, however, children did not show an overall demonstration of binaural interference. Relative performance in the binaural-asymmetric and the monaural conditions was not influenced by which ear (right or left) received the more degraded signal.


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