Interrupted Monosyllabic Words: The Effects of Ten Interruption Locations on Recognition Performance by Older Listeners With Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Two previous experiments from our laboratory with 70 interrupted monosyllabic words demonstrated that recognition performance was influenced by the temporal location of the interruption pattern. The interruption pattern (10 interruptions/sec, 50% duty cycle) was always the same and referenced word onset; the only difference between the patterns was the temporal location of the onand off-segments of the interruption cycle. In the first study, both young and older listeners obtained better recognition performances when the initial on-segment coincided with word onset than when the initial on-segment was delayed by 50 msec. The second experiment with 24 young listeners detailed recognition performance as the interruption pattern was incremented in 10-msec steps through the 0-To 90-msec onset range. Across the onset conditions, 95% of the functions were either flat or U-shaped. Purpose: To define the effects that interruption pattern locations had on word recognition by older listeners with sensorineural hearing loss as the interruption pattern incremented, re: Word onset, from 0 to 90 msec in 10-msec steps. Research Design: A repeated-measures design with ten interruption patterns (onset conditions) and one uninterruption condition. Study Sample: Twenty-four older males (mean = 69.6 yr) with sensorineural hearing loss participated in two 1-hour sessions. The three-frequency pure-Tone average was 24.0 dB HL and word recognition was $80% correct. Data Collection and Analyses: Seventy consonant-vowel nucleus-consonant words formed the corpus of materials with 25 additional words used for practice. For each participant, the 700 interrupted stimuli (70 words by 10 onset conditions), the 70 words uninterrupted, and two practice lists each were randomized and recorded on compact disc in 33 tracks of 25 words each. Results: The data were analyzed at the participant and word levels and compared to the results obtained earlier on 24 young listeners with normal hearing. The mean recognition performance on the 70 words uninterrupted was 91.0% with an overallmean performance on the ten interruption conditions of 63.2% (range: 57.9-69.3%), compared to 80.4% (range: 73.0-87.7%) obtained earlier on the young adults. The best performances were at the extremes of the onset conditions. Standard deviations ranged from 22.1% to 28.1% (24 participants) and from 9.2% to 12.8% (70 words). An arithmetic algorithm categorized the shapes of the psychometric functions across the ten onset conditions.With the older participants in the current study, 40% of the functions were flat, 41.4% were U-shaped, and 18.6% were inverted U-shaped, which compared favorably to the function shapes by the young listeners in the earlier study of 50.0%, 41.4%, and 8.6%, respectively. There were two words on which the older listeners had 40% better performances. Conclusion: Collectively, the data are orderly, but at the individual word or participant level, the data are somewhat volatile, which may reflect auditory processing differences between the participant groups. The diversity of recognition performances by the older listeners on the ten interruption conditions with each of the 70 words supports the notion that the term hearing loss is inclusive of processes well beyond the filtering produced by end-organ sensitivity deficits.