P02Session 2 (Friday 12 January 2024, 09:00-11:30)Effects of context and auditory ability on speech perception in noise
Being able to follow a conversation in a noisy environment is a critical skill. Whilst difficulty perceiving speech-in-noise (SIN) is common in clinical populations and even in healthy-hearing individuals, there is considerable interindividual variability in performance. Previous studies have shown that our ability to understand speech-in-noise (SIN) depends on both cognitive and low-level auditory skills, as well as the context in which information is perceived. Here, 155 participants took part in a battery of tests targeting the interplay between low-level auditory skills (such as temporal processing and sound grouping) and higher-order auditory processing skills (such as vocabulary and inhibition) when predicting SIN perception performance in healthy hearing individuals. We also investigated the role of context by presenting participants with a prime word in the clear, that was either related or unrelated to the target word presented with various levels of background noise (i.e., variable signal-to-noise ratios). Preliminary analyses with multiple linear regression revealed that the best predictors of SIN performance presented with context (related word pairs) were vocabulary proficiency and basic auditory skills (measured using the PROMS/the profile of music perception skills, Law & Zentner, 2014, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052508). The best predictor of performance for unrelated word pairs was sound grouping skill (measured with a figure-ground task, Holmes & Griffiths, 2019, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53353-5). Further investigation will include a path analysis featuring all observed variables, this will give a more comprehensive view of the relationships between higher-order and lower-order processing skills and their role in SIN performance. A better understanding of SIN variability in healthy-hearing individuals could help design interventions and environments. For example, vocabulary, basic auditory skills (such as pitch perception), and auditory grouping skills could be targeted in training.