The Effect of Background Noise on Immediate Free Recall of Words in Younger and Older Listeners with Hearing LossFunding This study was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2019S1A5A2A01051014).
Background Auditory working memory is a crucial factor for complex cognitive tasks such as speech-in-noise understanding because speech communication in noise engages multiple auditory and cognitive capacities to encode, store, and retrieve information. An immediate free recall task of words has been used frequently as a measure of auditory working memory capacity.
Purpose The present study investigated performance on the immediate free recall of words in quiet and noisy conditions for hearing-impaired listeners.
Research Design Fifty hearing-impaired listeners (30 younger and 20 older) participated in this study. Lists of 10 phonetically and lexically balanced words were presented with a fixed presentation rate in quiet and noise conditions. Target words were presented at an individually determined most comfortable level (MCL). Participants were required to recall as many of the words in an arbitrary order immediately after the end of the list. Serial position curves were determined from the accuracy of free recall as a function of the word position in the sequence.
Data Collection and Analysis Three-way analyses of variance with repeated measures were conducted on the percent-correct word recall scores, with two independent within-group factors (serial position and listening condition) and a between-group factor (younger, older).
Results A traditional serial position curve was found in hearing-impaired listeners, yet the serial position effects depended on the listening condition. In quiet, the listeners with hearing loss were likely to recall more words from the initial and final positions compared with the middle-position words. In multi-talker babble noise, more difficulties were observed when recalling the words in the initial position compared with the words in the final position.
Conclusion Without a noise, a traditional U-shaped serial position curve consisting of primacy and recency effects was observed from hearing-impaired listeners, in accord with previous findings from normal-hearing listeners. The adverse impact of background noise was more pronounced in the primacy effect than in the recency effect.
Received: 18 November 2019
Accepted: 24 March 2020
15 February 2021 (online)
© 2021. American Academy of Audiology. This article is published by Thieme.
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