It is hypothesized that older listeners are more likely than younger listeners to be impaired when asked to make intensity judgments about target tones embedded in rapidly presented auditory sequences. This study examined this hypothesis by asking listeners ranging in age from 19 to 74 yr to make judgments of intensity based on narrowband noise bursts varying in frequency and intensity. In two experiments, listeners made intensity judgments of target bursts alone or embedded in sequences of bursts. In the first experiment, one of four fixed sequences was presented and had to be identified. In the second experiment, pre- or post-trial bursts acted as cues that identified the frequency of the target burst in the sequence. In both experiments, intensity discrimination thresholds for single bursts were good predictors of performance with sequences and were little affected by age. Significant negative relationships between age and accuracy were observed when single sequences had to be identified or a post-trial cue was used, but no age effects were apparent when a pre-trial cue was used. These data are interpreted as being consistent with previous suggestions that the aging process results in a decline in auditory memory capacity and/or internally generated selective attention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics