ASA 125th Meeting Ottawa 1993 May

4aSP2. The effects of speaking rate and stimulus variability on the perception of spoken words by young and elderly subjects.

Mitchell S. Sommers

Larry E. Humes

Depts. of Psychol. and Speech and Hear. Sci., Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN 47405

This study compared spoken word recognition in young and elderly normal-hearing listeners as a function of speaking rate and stimulus variability. Monosyllabic words were presented in quiet at one of three speaking rates (fast, medium, or slow). In one condition, all stimulus items were presented at the same speaking rate while in a second condition speaking rate was varied from trial to trial. In control conditions, items were presented at either fixed or varying overall amplitudes. For young listeners, spoken word identification did not differ as a function of speaking rate. Older subjects, in contrast, demonstrated similar identification scores for slow- and medium-rate items but had significantly reduced identification performance for words presented at fast speaking rates. Identification accuracy was also reduced for older listeners in the mixed---as opposed to single---rate condition but only for those items presented at the fast speaking rate. Young listeners were not affected by variability due to speaking rate and neither group showed reduced identification as a result of variability in overall amplitude. Implications for speech perception in older listeners are discussed in terms of current views about perceptual normalization for different sources of variability. [Work supported by NIH.]