AGING AND AUDITORY SCENE ANALYSIS: ARE OLDER ADULTS AS GOOD AS YOUNGER ADULTS?
Older adults experience a greater degree of difficulty than younger adults listening to a target talker, when other people are talking. Part of this difficulty may be that it takes older adults a longer period of time to separate target speech from competing sound sources. There is reason to expect that the amount of time it takes older adults to achieve segregation will depend on the complexity of the auditory scene. This study investigates age differences in the time-line for segregating target speech from either a speech spectrum noise or a babble background (many people talking simultaneously) by varying the delay between masker onset and speech onset. Results indicate that older adults are as fast as younger adults at separating speech from a noise masker, but do not benefit to the same extent that young adults do, when the masker is babble.