This project investigates the effect of visual distraction on speech recognition performance of younger and older listeners.  Distracting visual information is omnipresent in face-to-face communication, yet virtually nothing is known about its effects.  Older listeners may experience inordinate difficulty with visual distracters because of the combined effects of age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline.  Three sets of studies will investigate the additional interference effects of visual distracters to background noise, and how the magnitude of visual interference varies with increased cognitive demand.  The studies evaluate younger and older normal-hearing listeners and older hearing-impaired listeners on a series of speech recognition measures in the presence of auditory noise and visual distracters.  In addition, looking times at the visual distracters and subjective assessment of task load will be assessed.  The outcomes have the potential to transform our understanding of the impact of age-related changes in auditory and cognitive abilities on speech communication.  

Principal Investigator
Graduate Researchers