ASA 124th Meeting New Orleans 1992 October

3pPP7. Attention and hearing impairment: Nonspeech auditory task performance.

Philip F. Seitz

Ctr. for Audit. and Speech Sci., Gallaudet Univ., Washington, DC 20002

Brad Rakerd

Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824

Previous research has demonstrated that speech listening demands significantly more attention from subjects with moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing impairments than it does from normal-hearing subjects. The present experiment is one of a series intended to trace the components of this attentional demand. At issue was whether vigilent listening to auditory input in general requires more attention from hearing-impaired listeners. At MCL, hearing-impaired and normal-hearing subjects monitored for bursts of speech-noise presented at random intervals, in memory-loaded and nonloaded conditions. Normal-hearing subjects also performed auditory monitoring in a condition where the signals were presented slightly above threshold. To compare their perceptual abilities in an unimpaired modality, all subjects also performed visual monitoring tasks. Results show comparable performance between the two subjects groups. This indicates that exceptional attentional demands of speech listening for the hearing impaired are due not to the maintenance of auditory vigilence per se, but rather to phonetic and linguistic processing requirements. [Work supported by NIH-NIDCD and Gallaudet Research Institute.]