Vaishnavi Ramadas1, Ramya V1, Ajith Kumar U2, Sathianathan R3
1Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India
2Department of Audiology, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysuru, India
3Department of Psychiatry, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, India
One of the most common concerns with respect to communication in older adults is understanding of speech in the presence of noise. Studies report that older adults had poorer working memory and perception of temporal cues for perception of speech in quiet and noise when compared to those of young adults. This may result in a lower quality of life in the older population. Understanding speech in background noise is influenced by working memory. The objective of this study was to compare the binaural integration, temporal processing, auditory separation/closure and working memory skills of older adults and young adults with normal hearing and cognition. These auditory processes were assessed using dichotic digit test, duration pattern and pitch pattern tests, Gap-In-Noise test, Tamil Matrix Sentence Test in quiet and noise and Temporal Fine Structure using TFS1 software. Working memory was assessed using forward and backward span tests, operation span, N-back and running span tests. A cross-sectional study design was employed. Twenty five native Tamil speaking young adults (18 – 25 years) and 25 older adults (56 – 79 years) with hearing thresholds below 25 dBHL and MoCA scores greater than 26 were recruited. The results of this paper will throw light on the differences in auditory and cognitive skills between the older and young adults. Insight on the auditory and cognitive profiles of these two groups will aid audiologists in understanding the underlying deficits leading to difficulty in speech understanding in older adults and targeting appropriate auditory/cognitive processes during rehabilitation.