Effect of Auditory Task Type on Physiological and Subjective Measures of Listening Effort in Individuals With Normal Hearing

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Purpose: Listening effort has traditionally been measured using subjective rating scales and behavioral measures. Recent physiological measures of listening effort have utilized pupil dilation. Using a combination of physiological and subjective measures of listening effort, this study aimed to identify differences in listening effort during 2 auditory tasks: sentence recognition and word recognition. Method: Pupil dilation and subjective ratings of listening effort were obtained for auditory tasks utilizing AzBio sentences recognition and Northwestern University Auditory Test No. 6 words recognition, across 3 listening situations: in quiet, at +6 dB signal-to-noise ratio, and at 0 dB signal-to-noise ratio. Task accuracy was recorded for each of the 6 conditions, as well as peak pupil dilation and a subjective rating of listening effort. Results: A significant impact of listening situation (quiet vs. noise) and task type (sentence recognition vs. word recognition) on both physiological and subjective measures was found. There was a significant interaction between listening situation and task type, suggesting that contextual cues may only be beneficial when audibility is uncompromised. The current study found no correlation between the physiological and subjective measures, possibly suggesting that these measures analyze different aspects of cognitive effort in a listening task.