Static and dynamic cocktail party listening – Effects of age-related hearing loss
Verbal communication often involves situations with several talkers speaking simultaneously. These “cocktail party” situations are typically “dynamic”, since the talker of interest may change in a possibly unpredictable manner. However, clinical assessments and research mainly consider “static” cocktail party listening with one fixed target talker and the competing talker(s) serving primarily as masker(s).
Recently, it has been shown that different types of attention – such as focusing, “dividing” and switching attention - are required in static and dynamic cocktail party listening (Meister et al., 2019). Especially the need to divide and switch attention is associated with cognitive “costs” reflected in decreasing performance (Brungart and Simpson 2007, Lin & Carlile 2015, Meister et al., 2019) and increasing reaction times (Oberem et al., 2017).
Older people appear to be at a particular disadvantage in cocktail party listening due to age related hearing loss and decline in several cognitive abilities, such as attention, working memory, and executive functions. Notably, however, older listeners with near-normal hearing and good cognitive skills did not perform significantly worse in static and dynamic cocktail party situations than younger subjects (Meister et al., 2019): Especially the ability to switch attention was largely preserved whereas older listeners tended to show more problems with dividing attention.
The present study shows results of an ongoing investigation into the possible effects of hearing impairment on static and dynamic cocktail party listening. Based on a paradigm with three competing talkers and different types and probabilities of switching the talker of interest (cf. Wächtler et al., this conference), we consider older listeners with near-normal hearing to moderate impairment. We hypothesize that the combination of hearing loss and attentional load is especially detrimental for the demanding dynamic condition resulting in higher costs compared to the static condition.
Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (ME2751/3-1)
Brungart, D.S., Simpson, B.D., 2007. Cocktail party listening in a dynamic multitalker environment. Percept. Psychophys. Jan;69(1):79-91.
Lin, G., Carlile, S., 2015. Costs of switching auditory spatial attention in following conversational turn-taking. Front. Neurosci. Apr. 20;9:124. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00124.
Meister, H., Wenzel, F., Gehlen, A., Kessler, J., Walger, M. Attentional mechanisms in static and dynamic cocktail-party listening. Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress on Acoustics, September 9 to 13, 2019, Aachen, Germany
Oberem, J., Koch, I., Fels, J., 2017. Intentional switching in auditory selective attention: Exploring age-related effects in a spatial setup requiring speech perception. Acta Psychol. (Amst). Jun;177:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.04.008.