Auditory perception and speech comprehension in aging

Principle investigators:
Jörg Lewald, Stephan Getzmann

Staff:
Christina Hanenberg, Laura Klatt

Funds:
DFG GE 1920/3-1; BMBF Project TRAIN-STIM

Cooperation/partners:
Christan Altmann (Kyoto University), Edward J. Golob (UTSA University of Texas), Risto Näätänen (University of Tartu), Sophie Nolden (RWTH Aachen)

The preservation of speech comprehension in difficult listening conditions is one of the greatest challenges of healthy aging. Deficits in speech comprehension can occur already at middle age and cause significant impairments in professional and private life. Our group investigates the sources of age-related difficulties in speech perception in realistic complex experimental environments using modern neurophysiological methods. The aim is to detect the neural basis of successful speech perception in younger and older adults and to identify potential factors influencing these processes. A major focus here is the elucidation of the neurophysiological backgrounds of the interindividual differences in performance when listening in complex acoustic environments. The results of our work will be used to develop and evaluate methods for improving speech comprehension in older age.

The DFG project ‘Auditory scene analysis and focusing of attention in speech perception during complex dynamic listening situations in younger and older adults’ investigates speech perception in realistic listening scenarios, focusing on the critical role of changes in auditory scenery. We expect that age-related increases in ‘switch costs’ of re-orienting and re-focusing of attention contribute to deficits in speech comprehension of older adults.

In the BMBF project TRAIN-STIM (Brain Plasticity for Active Aging: Enhancing Sensory, Motor, and Cognitive Function by Training Interventions and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation) methods for improving selective attention will be developed which are based on a combination of passive learning, active training, and non-invasive method of brain stimulation, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). TRAIN-STIM is conducted in cooperation with the department of Psychology and Neuroscience and collaborators in Dresden (Prof. Shu-Chen), Greifswald (Prof. Flöel) and Lausanne (Prof. Hummel).

 

Publications:

  • Getzmann, S., Jasny, J. & Falkenstein, M. (2017). Switching of auditory attention in “cocktail-party” listening: ERP evidence of cueing effects in younger and older adults. Brain and Cognition, 111, 1-12.
  • Getzmann, S. & Wascher, E. (2017). Visually guided auditory attention in a dynamic “cocktail-party” speech perception task: ERP evidence for age-related differences. Hearing Research, 344, 98-108.
  • Getzmann, S., Golob, E.J. & Wascher, E. (2016). Focused and divided attention in a simulated cocktail-party situation: ERP evidence from younger and older adults. Neurobiology of Aging, 41, 138-149.
  • Lewald, J., Hanenberg, C. & Getzmann, S. (2016). Brain correlates of the orientation of auditory spatial attention onto speaker location in a “cocktail-party” situation. Psychophysiology, 53, 1484-1495.
  • Getzmann, S. & Näätänen, R. (2015). The mismatch negativity (MMN) as a measure of auditory stream segregation in a simulated “cocktail-party” scenario: Effect of age. Neurobiology of Aging, 36, 3029-3037.
  • Getzmann, S., Wascher, E. & Falkenstein, M. (2015). What does successful speech-in-noise perception in aging depend on? Electrophysiological correlates of high and low performance in older adults. Neuropsychologia, 70, 43-57.