A versatile view on the aging auditory system for auditory processing and speech perception
In daily life most speech communication information has to be captured in non-optimal acoustical environments and in the presence of interfering sound sources. In the auditory system, the complex speech signal needs to be analyzed acoustically and neurally, separated from the noise, and mapped to phonemes and words. There is a broad consensus in the literature that speech perception problems in the aging population originate from a combination of hearing impairment, cognitive decline, and central auditory processing deficiencies.
In the key talk, data on neural temporal processing, speech perception, and binaural processing are presented in order to disentangle effects of age-related peripheral hearing deficits and central processing changes. Auditory sensitivities from the peripheral (brainstem) to the central level (cortex) are investigated across age using a combination of objective neurophysiological and behavioral performance measures. Both objective and behavioral data are obtained from different adult normal hearing and hearing impaired age-cohorts, taking into account age-matching where appropriate. Understanding these neural correlates will lead to improved strategies to enhance central auditory plasticity in seniors (through training programs) and will support the development and application of better auditory prostheses (digital hearing aids and cochlear implants).
Funding bodies : Research Council of KU Leuven through project OT/12/98 and FWO-aspirant grant to Tine Goossens (grant number 11Z8815N)