Hartmut Meister1, Moritz Wächtler1, Josef Kessler2, Martin Walger1,3
1Jean-Uhrmacher-Institute, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
2Department of Neurology, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany
3Clinic of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Cologne, Germany

Listening situations with competing talkers pose high demands on both the auditory system as well as cognitive abilities. These “cocktail party situations” can be “static” or “dynamic”, the latter involving the target talker changing in a possibly unpredictable manner (Brungart & Simpson, 2007; Lin & Carlile, 2015; Meister et al., 2020). Here, different attentional mechanisms may play a role. In static cocktail party listening it is assumed that focusing attention on a known target is important. In dynamic listening situations, however, it is also important to monitor several potential targets and to switch attention if the talker of interest changes (Lin & Carlile, 2019; Meister et al., 2020).
In this study we shed light on the underlying mechanisms by analyzing different error types in a listening situation with three competing talkers. Specifically, random errors (omitting or misunderstanding words) and confusion errors (mixing up target and masker) were determined that might give valuable information about the load in static and dynamic cocktail party situations. Moreover, different listener groups (young and older listeners with and without hearing loss) were considered in order to examine potential effects of age and hearing impairment. The presentation discusses how the different errors could reflect effects of auditory stream segregation and factors such as misdirecting attention or losing attentional focus and whether this depends on the listener groups.

Acknowledgements: Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ME 2751/3-1.