NHBRU and IHR in Nottingham, PhD in Experimental Psychology

The effect of hearing ability and cognition on speech perception in noise

with Dr Antje Heinrich, Dr Helen Henshaw and Dr Katrin Krumbholz
antje@ihr.mrc.ac.uk, helen.henshaw@nottingham.ac.uk, katrin@ihr.mrc.ac.uk

Older adults find it challenging to understand speech in noisy environments, such as a cocktail party, leading to social withdrawal and isolation. It is unclear whether speech-in-noise deficits in older listeners are due to age-related hearing loss or decline in cognitive abilities. The aim of this project will be to investigate, which cognitive abilities are important for speech-in-noise understanding, and to investigate to what extent deficits in these abilities can account for speech-in-noise difficulties in older adults.

Hearing ability declines as we grow old. Cognitive function, such as attention and memory also declines. Both of these changes may be responsible for the difficulties with speech-in-noise perception experienced by many older listeners. In the laboratory and clinic, various different types of tests are used to measure speech-in-noise performance. This project will investigate how these different tests are influenced by different aspects of cognitive ability. We will first develop a test battery for cognitive abilities that correlate with speech-in-noise performance. While the initial development stage will rely on normal-hearing young listeners, the resulting test battery will then be applied to older listeners. For the older group, we will also assess basic hearing ability using a variety of audiometric tests.

This project is aimed at graduates with a first- or upper second-class degree in a relevant discipline, such as psychology, speech or communication sciences, phonetics, audiology, neuroscience or engineering. You will be trained in a broad range of subjects from audiology and hearing science to cognitive assessment and speech communication. You should have excellent interpersonal skills and be prepared to interact with volunteers of all ages.

Schneider B, et al. (2010). Effects of senescent changes in audition and cognition on spoken language comprehension. In: The Aging Auditory System, Gordon-Salant S, Frisina RD, Fay RR & Popper AN (Eds), Springer, New York, pp. 167-210.

Akeroyd MA (2008). Are individual differences in speech reception related to individual differences in cognitive ability? Int J Audiol 47 Suppl. 2, 53-71.