The contribution of individual differences in memory span and language ability to spatial release from masking in young children
journal contributionposted on 11.11.2019, 11:17 by Douglas MacCutcheon, Florian Pausch, Christian Fullgrabe, Renata Eccles, Jeannie van der Linde, Clorinda Panebianco, Janina Fels, Robert Ljung
Purpose Working memory capacity and language ability modulate speech reception; however, the respective roles of peripheral and cognitive processing are unclear. The contribution of individual differences in these abilities to utilization of spatial cues when separating speech from informational and energetic masking backgrounds in children has not yet been determined. Therefore, this study explored whether speech reception in children is modulated by environmental factors, such as the type of background noise and spatial configuration of target and noise sources, and individual differences in the cognitive and linguistic abilities of listeners. Method Speech reception thresholds were assessed in 39 children aged 5-7 years in simulated school listening environments. Speech reception thresholds of target sentences spoken by an adult male consisting of number and color combinations were measured using an adaptive procedure, with speech-shaped white noise and single-talker backgrounds that were either collocated (target and back-ground at 0°) or spatially separated (target at 0°, background noise at 90° to the right). Spatial release from masking was assessed alongside memory span and expressive language. Results and Conclusion Significant main effect results showed that speech reception thresholds were highest for informational maskers and collocated conditions. Significant interactions indicated that individual differences in memory span and language ability were related to spatial release from masking advantages. Specifically, individual differences in memory span and language were related to the utilization of spatial cues in separated conditions. Language differences were related to auditory stream segregation abilities in collocated conditions that lack helpful spatial cues, pointing to the utilization of language processes to make up for losses in spatial information.
Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (IB2017-7004)
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences