Callier Ctr. for Commun. Disord., Univ. of Texas---Dallas, 1966 Inwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75235
A pervasive characteristic of aging is an inability to understand speech, particularly in adverse listening environments. The present investigation examined individual differences in speech recognition in 30 elderly listeners with similar degrees/configurations of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) and equivalent speech recognition in quiet. Speech recognition was assessed via the speech reception threshold procedure [R. Plomp and A. M. Mimpen, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 66, 1333--1342 (1979)] utilizing the predictability-high sentences from the revised speech perception in noise (SPIN) test. The multi-talker babble derived from the SPIN test presented at a level of 75 dB SPL, served as the noise competition. Results indicated a nonsignificant correlation (r=-0.03, p<0.01) between speech-recognition ability in quiet and in noise. These data suggest that elderly individuals with similar audiometric configurations often demonstrate varying degrees of difficulty understanding speech in a background of noise. Theoretical and clinical implications for the development of rehabilitation procedures, such as digital amplification devices, for the elderly will be addressed.