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Executive functions and working memory capacity in speech communication under adverse conditions
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0369-3354
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Anaesthetics, Operations and Specialty Surgery Center, Department of Otorhinolaryngology in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuro and Inflammation Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
2016 (English)In: Speech, Language and Hearing, ISSN 2050-571X, Vol. 19, no 4, 218-226 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Introduction: Working memory is assumed to play a major part in hearing and communication in everyday listening situations. Our working memory stores information, but in suboptimal listening conditions, interfering stimuli can lead to information only being partially stored, or even missed. Research suggests that a high working memory capacity (WMC) might not just be a result of a large store, but in addition good inhibitory control can facilitate working memory, and therefore aid in situations where focus on a target stimulus while ignoring distractors is needed.

Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate how individual WMC, cognitive inhibition, and lexical decision relate to listening to speech under adverse conditions in two separate groups: 46 young normally hearing (NH) and 40 elderly hearing-impaired (HI) individuals.

Results: It showed that lexical access was of little importance for young NH individuals in a speech-in-noise test, but that high lexical decision-making was associated with lower signal-to-noise ratios for the elderly HI individuals. The results also showed that WMC was of importance for word recognition in a speech-in-noise test for elderly participants, when the 80% word recognition criterion was targeted, but not for the young NH individuals. Finally, results suggest that cognitive inhibition, as measured with the Hayling task, was important for young NH individuals when listening conditions are suboptimal.

Conclusion: In conclusion, hearing loss is a strong contributing factor to declines in the ability to recognize speech in noise, and in order to assess speech-recognition-in-noise performance, individual differences in WMC and cognitive inhibition should be taken into consideration. Future research should include various age groups, with and without hearing loss, as well as measures of WMC, cognitive inhibition, and lexical access when assessing the ability to listen to speech under adverse conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2016. Vol. 19, no 4, 218-226 p.
National Category
Neurosciences Rheumatology and Autoimmunity Otorhinolaryngology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-133193DOI: 10.1080/2050571X.2016.1196034OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-133193DiVA: diva2:1056121
Available from: 2016-12-14 Created: 2016-12-14 Last updated: 2017-05-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Speech masking speech in everyday communication: The role of inhibitory control and working memory capacity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Speech masking speech in everyday communication: The role of inhibitory control and working memory capacity
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Tal som störning vid språklig kommunikation : Betydelsen av inhibitionskontroll och arbetsminneskapacitet
Abstract [en]

Age affects hearing and cognitive abilities. Older people, with and without hearing impairment (HI), exhibit difficulties in hearing speech in noise. Elderly individuals show greater difficulty in segregating target speech from distracting background noise, especially if the noise is competing speech with meaningful contents, so called informational maskers. Working memory capacity (WMC) has proven to be a crucial factor in comprehending speech in noise, especially for people with hearing loss. In auditory scenes where speech is disrupted by competing speech, high WMC has proven to facilitate the ability to segregate target speech and inhibit responses to irrelevant information. People with low WMC are more prone to be disrupted by competing speech and exhibit more difficulties in hearing target speech in complex listening environments. Furthermore, elderly individuals with a HI experience more difficulties in switching attention between wanted and irrelevant stimuli, and they employ more resources and time to attend to the stimuli than do normally - hearing (NH) younger adults.

This thesis investigated the importance of inhibitory control and WMC for speech recognition in noise, and perceived listening effort. Four studies were conducted. In the first study, the aim was to develop a test of inhibitory control for verbal content, and to investigate the relation between inhibitory control and WMC, and how these two abilities related to speech recognition in noise, in young normally – hearing (YNH) individuals.

In the second study we aimed to investigate the same relationship as in the first study to further strengthen the validity of the inhibitory test developed, as well as the importance of lexical access. It was also an aim to investigate the influence of age and hearing status on lexical access and WMC, and their respective roles for speech recognition in noise in both YNH and elderly HI (EHI) individuals.

Study one and two showed that, for YNH, inhibitory control was related to speech recognition in noise, indicating that inhibitory control can help to predict speech recognition in noise performance. The relationship between WMC and speech recognition in noise in YNH shifted in the studies, suggesting that this relationship is multifaceted and varying. Lexical access was of little importance for YNH, although for EHI individuals, both WMC and lexical access was of importance for speech recognition in noise, suggesting that different cognitive abilities were of importance for the YNH and EHI individuals Study three investigated the relationship between inhibitory control, WMC, speech recognition in noise, and perceived listening effort, in YNH and elderly, for their age, NH, individuals (ENH). In study four the same relationships as in study three were investigated, albeit in EHI individuals. Two speech materials with different characteristics, masked with four background noises were used. The results in study three showed that less favourable SNRs were needed for informational maskers than for maskers without semantic content. ENH individuals were more susceptible to informational maskers than YNH individuals. In contrast, in study four, more favourable SNRs were needed for informational maskers. In both studies, results showed that speech recognition in noise performance differed depending on the characteristics of the speech material.

The studies showed that high WMC, compared to low WMC, was beneficial for speech recognition in noise, especially for informational maskers, and resulted in lower ratings of perceived effort. Varying results were found in study three and four regarding perceived effort and inhibitory control. In study three good inhibitory control was associated with lower effort rating, while in study four, individuals with a HI and good inhibitory control rated effort as higher.

The results suggest that hearing status, age, and cognitive abilities, contribute to the differences in performance between YNH, ENH, and EHI individuals in speech – recognition – in – noise - and cognitive tasks.

This thesis has, for the first time, demonstrated that a measure of inhibitory control of verbal content, is related to speech recognition in noise performance in YNH, ENH and EHI individuals. Results presented in this thesis also show that both WMC and inhibitory control are related to an individuals’ perception of how effortful a listening task is. It also adds to the literature that WMC is related to speech recognition in noise performance for ENH and EHI individuals, but that this relationship is not as robust in YNH individuals.

Abstract [en]

Ålder påverkar hörseln och de kognitiva förmågorna. Äldre personer, med och utan hörselnedsättning, uppvisar ofta svårigheter att höra tal i miljöer med bakgrundsljud. De uppvisar större svårigheter att urskilja en måltalare, speciellt om det omgivande ljudet består av annat tal med meningsfullt innehåll, så kallad informationsmaskering. Arbetsminne har visat sig vara en viktig faktor för att förstå tal – i – brus, framför allt för personer med hörselnedsättning. I ljudmiljöer där tal störs av andra talkällor är hög arbetsminneskapacitet av vikt för att understödja förmågan att urskilja måltalaren från de störande talkällorna genom att underlätta inhiberingen av irrelevant information. Individer med lägre arbetsminneskapacitet är mer benägna att störas av andra talkällor, och har svårare att uppfatta måltalaren i komplexa lyssningssituationer. Vidare upplever äldre personer med hörselnedsättning att det är svårare att skifta uppmärksamheten mellan relevant och irrelevant stimuli, och de använder mer resurser och tid till omgivande stimuli än, ex. yngre individer med normal hörsel.

I den här avhandlingen undersöktes vikten av inhibitionskontroll och arbetsminne vid taluppfattning i brus och upplevelsen av lyssningsansträngning. Fyra studier genomfördes. Syftet med första studien var att utveckla ett test för verbal inhibitionskontroll, och att undersöka relationen mellan inhibitionskontroll, arbetsminneskapacitet, och deras koppling till taluppfattning i brus hos yngre normalhörande personer.

I studie två undersöktes ovanstående relationer för att vidare styrka validiteten för testet av inhibitionskontroll, samt vikten av lexikal åtkomst. Vidare syfte var att undersöka ålderns och hörselns inverkan på lexikal åtkomst och arbetsminneskapacitet, och deras respektive roller för taluppfattning i brus hos både yngre normalhörande och äldre hörselnedsatta personer.

Studie ett och två visade att inhibitionskontroll var relaterad till taluppfattning i brus för yngre normalhörande personer, vilket indikerar att inhibitionskontroll kan användas för att underlätta att förutsäga förmågan att uppfatta tal – i – brus. Relationen mellan arbetsminneskapacitet och taluppfattning i brus hos yngre normalhörande var inte solid, vilket tyder på att relationen är mångsidig och skiftande. Lexikal åtkomst var av mindre betydelse för yngre normalhörande personer, ehuru hos äldre hörselskadade personer var både arbetsminneskapacitet och lexikal åtkomst viktigt för taluppfattning i brus. Detta tyder på att olika kognitiva förmågor var betydelsefulla för taluppfattningen i brus för yngre normalhörande och äldre hörselskadade personer.

Studie tre undersökte relationen mellan inhibitionskontroll, arbetsminneskapacitet, taluppfattning i brus, och upplevd lyssningsansträngning hos yngre och äldre, för sin ålder, normalhörande personer. Två talmaterial med olika karakteristika användes och maskerades med fyra olika bakgrundsbrus. Resultatet visade att mindre gynnsamma signal – brus - förhållanden uppnåddes när informationsmaskering användes jämfört med brus utan semantiskt innehåll. Äldre normalhörande personer var mer mottagliga för informationsmaskering än yngre normalhörande personer. Hög arbetsminneskapacitet och god inhibitionskontroll var förmånliga för taluppfattning i brus, och resulterade i mindre upplevd lyssningsansträngning, jämfört med personer med lägre arbetsminneskapacitet och sämre inhibitionskontroll. Resultaten talar för att åldersrelaterade tillbakagångar i hörförmåga och, vissa, kognitiva förmågor, bidrar till skillnaderna i prestation mellan yngre och äldre normalhörande personer när det gäller förmågan att uppfatta tal - i - brus. Studie fyra undersökte samma relationer som i studie tre, ehuru hos äldre personer med mild – måttlig sensorineural hörselnedsättning. Resultaten visade att förmågan att uppfatta tal - i - brus varierade beroende på talmaterialets karakteristika, samt vilket bakgrundsbrus som användes. Hög arbetsminneskapacitet och god inhibitionskontroll var fördelaktiga för taluppfattningen, i synnerhet när informationsmaskering användes. Personer med högt arbetsminne upplevde mindre lyssningsansträngning, medan god inhibitionskontroll associerades med högre upplevd lyssningsansträngning.

I föreliggande avhandling har det, för första gången, påvisats att verbal inhibitionskontroll relaterar till förmågan att uppfatta tal – i – brus hos yngre och äldre normalhörande, och äldre personer med hörselnedsättning. Resultaten som presenterats i avhandlingen visar att både arbetsminneskapacitet och inhibitionskontroll är associerade med en individs upplevelse av hur ansträngande en lyssningssituation är. Avhandlingen stödjer även tidigare forskning som visar på att arbetsminneskapaciteten är relaterad till förmågan att uppfatta tal – i – brus hos äldre  normalhörande, och äldre hörselskadade personer, men att denna relation inte är lika solid för yngre normalhörande personer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. 55 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1559Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 80
Keyword
Hearing impairment, normal hearing, age, speech-in-noise, working memory, inhibitory control, listening effort, Hörselnedsättning, normal hörsel, ålder, tal-i-brus, arbetsminne, inhibitionskontroll, lyssningansträngning
National Category
Otorhinolaryngology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Rheumatology and Autoimmunity Neurosciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-133194 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-133194 (DOI)9789176856048 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-01-20, Granitsalen, Campus US, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-12-14 Created: 2016-12-14 Last updated: 2017-01-09Bibliographically approved

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Stenbäck, VictoriaHällgren, MathiasLarsby, Birgitta
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Division of Neuro and Inflammation ScienceFaculty of Medicine and Health SciencesDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology in Linköping
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