Auditory-visual speech perception and auditory-visual enhancement in normal-hearing younger and older adults

Mitchell S. Sommers, Nancy Tye-Murray, Brent Spehar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of age on the ability to benefit from combining auditory and visual speech information, relative to listening or speechreading alone. In addition, the study was designed to compare visual enhancement (VE) and auditory enhancement (AE) for consonants, words, and sentences in older and younger adults. Design: Forty-four older adults and 38 younger adults with clinically normal thresholds for frequencies of 4 kHz and below were asked to identify vowel-consonant-vowels (VCVs), words in a carrier phrase, and semantically meaningful sentences in auditory-only (A), visual-only (V), and auditory-visual (AV) conditions. All stimuli were presented in a background of 20-talker babble, and signal-to-babble ratios were set individually for each participant and each stimulus type to produce approximately 50% correct in the A condition. Results: For all three types of stimuli, older and younger adults obtained similar scores for the A condition, indicating that the procedure for individually adjusting signal-to-babble ratios was successful at equating A scores for the two age groups. Older adults, however, had significantly poorer performance than younger adults in the AV and V modalities. Analyses of both AE and VE indicated no age differences in the ability to benefit from combining auditory and visual speech signals after controlling for age differences in the V condition. Correlations between scores for the three types of stimuli (consonants, words, and sentences) indicated moderate correlations in the V condition but small correlations for AV, AE, and VE. Conclusions: Overall, the findings suggest that the poorer performance of older adults in the AV condition was a result of reduced speechreading abilities rather than a consequence of impaired integration capacities. The pattern of correlations across the three stimulus types indicates some overlap in the mechanisms mediating AV perception of words and sentences and that these mechanisms are largely independent from those used for AV perception of consonants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalEar and hearing
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Auditory-visual speech perception and auditory-visual enhancement in normal-hearing younger and older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this