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Visual Information Can Hinder Working Memory Processing of Speech
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Linnaeus Centre HEAD)
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Eriksholm Research Centre, Oticon A/S, Snekkersten, Denmark . (Linnaeus Centre HEAD)
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Neuroscience. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. (Linnaeus Centre HEAD)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3350-8997
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Linnaeus Centre HEAD)
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, ISSN 1092-4388, E-ISSN 1558-9102, Vol. 56, no 4, 1120-1132 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the new Cognitive Spare Capacity Test (CSCT), which measures aspects of working memory capacity for heard speech in the audiovisual and auditory-only modalities of presentation.


In Experiment 1, 20 young adults with normal hearing performed the CSCT and an independent battery of cognitive tests. In the CSCT, they listened to and recalled 2-digit numbers according to instructions inducing executive processing at 2 different memory loads. In Experiment 2, 10 participants performed a less executively demanding free recall task using the same stimuli.


CSCT performance demonstrated an effect of memory load and was associated with independent measures of executive function and inference making but not with general working memory capacity. Audiovisual presentation was associated with lower CSCT scores but higher free recall performance scores.


CSCT is an executively challenging test of the ability to process heard speech. It captures cognitive aspects of listening related to sentence comprehension that are quantitatively and qualitatively different from working memory capacity. Visual information provided in the audiovisual modality of presentation can hinder executive processing in working memory of nondegraded speech material.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2013. Vol. 56, no 4, 1120-1132 p.
Keyword [en]
auditory processing, cognitive spare capacity, executive functions, free recall, speech understanding, working memory
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-96596DOI: 10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0033)ISI: 000328266600006PubMedID: 23785180OAI: diva2:642379
Fas Lyssna
Available from: 2013-08-21 Created: 2013-08-21 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Exploring Cognitive Spare Capacity: Executive Processing of Degraded Speech
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring Cognitive Spare Capacity: Executive Processing of Degraded Speech
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Cognitive resources, specifically working memory capacity are used for listening to speech, especially in noise. Cognitive resources are limited, and if listeners allocate a greater share of these resources to recovering the input signal in noise, fewer resources are available for interpreting and encoding its linguistic content. Although the importance of CSC for individual success in communicative situations has been acknowledged, this concept has not hitherto been explored experimentally. In this thesis, a CSC test (CSCT) was developed and administered to young adults with normal hearing and older adults with age-related hearing loss. CSCT required executive processing of speech at different memory loads with and without visual cues in different noise conditions. A free recall task using the same material was administered for comparison purposes and a battery of cognitive tests was administered to understand the relation between CSC and established cognitive concepts. The aims of the thesis were to investigate how CSC is influenced by 1) different executive demands and memory loads; 2) background noise; 3) visual cues; 4) aging and concomitant hearing loss. The results showed that 1) CSC was sensitive to memory load, and updating demands reduced CSC more than inhibition demands; 2) CSC was reduced in background noise compared to quiet; 3) visual cues enhanced CSC especially in noise; 4) CSC was reduced with ageing and concomitant hearing loss especially when visual cues were absent, memory demands were  increased and background noise was speech-like. The main finding of this thesis was that visual cues enhanced CSC for older individuals with hearing loss, specifically in adverse listening conditions. This demonstrates the importance of audiovisual testing in audiological assessment. Further, specific cognitive resources depleted during listening in noise were at least partially compensated by other cognitive functions. This thesis is the first step towards a theoretical understanding of CSC and in future, tests of CSC may play a crucial role in planning rehabilitation of persons with hearing loss.

Abstract [sv]

Kognitiva resurser, speciellt arbetsminneskapacitet, förbrukas när vi lyssnar på tal, framförallt i bakgrundsbrus. De kognitiva resurserna är begränsade och ju större del som används till att rekonstruera en inkommande signal, desto färre finns fortsatt tillgängliga för att koda in och tolka dess språkliga innehåll. Trots att betydelsen av kognitiv reservkapacitet för framgångrik kommunikation är erkänd har kognitiv reservkapacitet hittills inte blivit undersökt experimentellt. I detta avhandlingsarbete utvecklades CSCT som ett test av kognitiv reservkapacitet. CSCT administrerades till unga vuxna med normal hörsel och äldre individer med åldersrelaterad hörselnedsättning. CSCT kräver exekutiv bearbetning av talat språk under olika minnesbelastningar, med och utan tillgång till visuell information och med och utan bakgrundsbrus. En fri återgivningsuppgift, baserad på samma material som i CSCT, administrerades för att kunna göra jämförelser. Slutligen administrerades ett kognitivt testbatteri för att förstå relationen mellan kognitiv reservkapacitet och andra kognitiva funktioner. Avhandlingens syfte var att undersöka hur kognitiv reservkapacitet påverkas av 1) olika krav på de exekutiva förmågorna och olika grad av minnesbelastning; 2) bakgrundsbrus; 3) tillgång till visuell information; 4) åldrande och åldersrelaterad hörselnedsättning. Resultaten visade att kognitiv reservkapacitet 1) var känsligt för minnesbelastning och reducerades mer av uppdaterings- än inhibitionskrav; 2) reducerades av bakgrundsbrus; 3) ökade med tillgång till visuell information, framförallt i bakgrundsbrus; 4) var reducerad hos äldre med åldersrelaterad hörselnedsättning, speciellt när visuell information saknades, minnesbelastningen ökades och bakgrundsbruset bestod av talspråk. Huvudfyndet var att visuell information frigjorde kognitiv reservkapacitet hos äldre individer med nedsatt hörsel, speciellt när lyssningssituationen var ogynnsam. Detta visar på betydelsen av audiovisuell testning vid audiologisk bedömning. Resultaten visade vidare att när specifika kognitiva resurser förbrukades under ogynnsamma lyssningsförhållanden kunde andra kognitiva funktioner kompensera för detta. Denna avhandling utgör det första steget mot en teoretisk förståelse av kognitiv reservkapacitet. På sikt kan utvärdering av kognitiv reservkapacitet spela en avgörande roll för planering av rehabilitering i samband med hörselnedsättning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. 58 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 611Studies from the Swedish Institute for Disability Research, ISSN 1650-1128 ; 58
Working memory, cognitive spare capacity, updating, inhibition, Arbetsminne, kognitiv reservkapacitet, uppdatering, inhibition
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104946 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-104946 (DOI)978-91-7519-386-1 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-21, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-03-04 Created: 2014-03-04 Last updated: 2014-10-08Bibliographically approved

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Mishra, SushmitLunner, ThomasStenfelt, StefanRönnberg, JerkerRudner, Mary
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