PERCEPTUAL INTEGRATION BETWEEN TARGET SPEECH AND TARGET-SPEECH REFLECTION REDUCES MASKING FOR TARGET-SPEECH RECOGNITION IN YOUNGER AND OLDER ADULTS
This study evaluated unmasking functions of perceptual integration of target speech and simulated target-speech reflection, which were presented by two spatially separated loudspeakers. In both younger adults and older adults with clinically-normal hearing, reducing the time interval between target speech and target-reflection simulation (inter-target interval, ITI) from 64 to 0 ms progressively released target speech from either speech masking or noise masking. But the longest ITI at which a significant release from speech masking occurred was significantly shorter in older listeners than in younger listeners. These results suggest that in reverberant environments with multi-talker speech, perceptual integration between the direct sound wave and correlated reflections, which facilitates perceptual segregation of various sources, is critical for unmasking attended speech. The age-related reduction of the ITI range for releasing speech from speech masking may be one of the causes for the speech-recognition difficulties experienced by older listeners in such adverse environments.