Listening Effort, Age, and Audio-Only Versus Audio-Visual Presentations
Gosselin and Gagne (2011a) used a dual-task paradigm to evaluate listening effort of young listeners (mean age 23.5 years) and older listeners (mean age 69 years) with regard to their ability to simultaneously attend to speech-in-noise (auditory only) and a tactile task. In essence, older listeners expended more listening effort and more cognitive processing resources (i.e., listening effort) than younger listeners to accomplish the same tasks, leaving less cognitive resources available for other tasks and while perhaps being unaware of the extra effort expended.
Gosselin and Gagne (2011b) additionally evaluated the effects of audio-visual presentations based on a second group of younger (mean age 24.9 years) and older (mean age 69 years) participants. As expected, the authors reported adding visual cues often improved "audio-visual speech recognition" potentially equivalent to 7 to 10 dB of noise reduction.
However, consistent with previous literature, the addition of visual cues increased the processing demand (i.e., listening effort) more than audio-only presentations with negative performance consequences on both components (speech-in-noise and tactile) of the dual-task paradigm. Consistent with Alsius, Navarra, and Soto-Faraco (2007), Gosselin and Gagne (2011b) state "a difficult tactile task can cause cross-modal interference and disrupt the binding of audiovisual information."
For More Information, References and Recommendations
Alsius A, Navarra J, Soto-Faraco S. (2007) Attention to Touch Weakens Audiovisual Speech Integration. Experimental Brain Research 183:399–404.
Beck DL. (2010) Cognition and Audition: Introductory Concepts. The Hearing Professional Oct-Nov-Dec:23–25.
Beck DL, Flexer C. (2011) Listening Is Where Hearing Meets Brain in Children and Adults. Hearing Review February:30–33.
Beck DL, Clark JL. (2009) Audition Matters More as Cognition Declines and Cognition Matters More as Audition Declines. Audiology Today. March/April:47–60.
Gosselin PA, Gagne JP. (2011a) Older Adults Expend More Listening Effort Than Younger Adults Recognizing Speech in Noise. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research 54(6):944–958.
Pichora-Fuller MK. (2008) Use of Supportive Context by Younger and Older Adult Listeners: Balancing Bottom-Up and Top-Down Information Processing. International Journal of Audiology 47(2):S72–S82.