Effects of Age and Hearing Loss on the Processing of Auditory Temporal Fine Structure
Physiology, Psychoacoustics and Cognition in Normal and Impaired Hearing
Advances in experimental medicine and biology, April 2016
Brian C. J. Moore, Moore, Brian C J, Moore, Brian C. J.
Pim van Dijk, Deniz Başkent, Etienne Gaudrain, Emile de Kleine, Anita Wagner, Cris Lanting
Within the cochlea, broadband sounds like speech and music are filtered into a series of narrowband signals, each of which can be considered as a relatively slowly varying envelope (ENV) imposed on a rapidly oscillating carrier (the temporal fine structure, TFS). Information about ENV and TFS is conveyed in the timing and short-term rate of nerve spikes in the auditory nerve. There is evidence that both hearing loss and increasing age adversely affect the ability to use TFS information, but in many studies the effects of hearing loss and age have been confounded. This paper summarises evidence from studies that allow some separation of the effects of hearing loss and age. The results suggest that the monaural processing of TFS information, which is important for the perception of pitch and for segregating speech from background sounds, is adversely affected by both hearing loss and increasing age, the former being more important. The monaural processing of ENV information is hardly affected by hearing loss or by increasing age. The binaural processing of TFS information, which is important for sound localisation and the binaural masking level difference, is also adversely affected by both hearing loss and increasing age, but here the latter seems more important. The deterioration of binaural TFS processing with increasing age appears to start relatively early in life. The binaural processing of ENV information also deteriorates somewhat with increasing age. The reduced binaural processing abilities found for older/hearing-impaired listeners may partially account for the difficulties that such listeners experience in situations where the target speech and interfering sounds come from different directions in space, as is common in everyday life.
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