Age-related changes in auditory processing and speech perception: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses

Harvey Babkoff, Leah Fostick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Age-related differences in speech perception have been shown in previous cross-sectional studies to be related to auditory temporal processing. We examined this association in both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, controlling for age-related changes in hearing sensitivity and cognitive ability. Fifty-eight participants were tested in two phases. In phase 1, ages ranged between 22 and 82 years. Phase 2 occurred seven years later. In both phases, participants performed auditory processing tasks, speech perception tests, and cognitive tasks. In both phases, age correlated with hearing level, auditory temporal processing thresholds, word recognition accuracy in noise, and compressed speech. Auditory temporal processing thresholds were correlated with word recognition accuracy in narrowband noise and compressed speech. Longitudinal analysis showed significant decreases in performance from phase 1 to phase 2 in hearing level, dichotic TOJ thresholds, and word recognition accuracy. Steeper slopes were observed in phase 2 than in phase 1 for correlations between age, hearing level, and word recognition accuracy in narrowband noise, but not for age and dichotic TOJ thresholds. Generalized estimating equations revealed an overall decrease in word recognition accuracy from phase 1 to phase 2; this decrease was larger for older participants. Increases in dichotic TOJ and gap detection thresholds were associated with a decrease over time in speech in narrowband and broadband noise, and compressed speech, even when adjusted for age, hearing level, and cognitive ability. These results show that both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs yield similar significant associations between temporal processing and speech perception, even when adjusted for hearing level and cognitive ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-281
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Aging
  • Auditory temporal processing
  • Cross-sectional design
  • Longitudinal design
  • Speech perception


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