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Identification of Acoustically Similar and Dissimilar Vowels in Profoundly Deaf Adults Who Use Hearing Aids and/or Cochlear Implants (Hay-McCutcheon et al., 2014)

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posted on 2014-03-01, 00:00 authored by Marcia J. Hay-McCutcheon, Nathaniel R. Peterson, Christian A. Rosado, David B. Pisoni
Purpose In this study, the authors examined the effects of aging and residual hearing on the identification of acoustically similar and dissimilar vowels in adults with postlingual deafness who use hearing aids (HAs) and/or cochlear implants (CIs).
Method The authors used two groups of acoustically similar and dissimilar vowels to assess vowel identification. Also, the Consonant–Nucleus–Consonant Word Recognition Test (Peterson & Lehiste, 1962) and sentences from the Hearing in Noise Test (Nilsson, Soli, & Sullivan, 1994) were administered. Forty CI recipients with postlingual deafness (ages 31–81 years) participated in the study.
Results Acoustically similar vowels were more difficult to identify than acoustically dissimilar vowels. With increasing age, performance deteriorated when identifying acoustically similar vowels. Vowel identification was also affected by the use of a contralateral HA and the degree of residual hearing prior to implantation. Moderate correlations were found between speech perception and vowel identification performance.
Conclusions Identification performance was affected by the acoustic similarity of the vowels. Older adults experienced more difficulty identifying acoustically similar confusable vowels than did younger adults. The findings might lend support to the ease of language understanding model (Ronnberg, Rudner, Foo, & Lunner, 2008), which proposes that the quality and perceptual robustness of acoustic input affects speech perception.


Funding for this study was provided by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R03 DC008383 (awarded to the first author) and T32 DC00012 (awarded to the third author) and by the Psi Iota Xi Philanthropic Organization. Portions of this study were presented at the 2008 American Auditory Society Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Jason Parton from the University of Alabama's Rural Health Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, who provided statistical support for the study


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