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The University of Southampton

Research project: The effects of ageing on hearing and auditory processing

Currently Active: 

Given our ageing population, it is important to understand the effects of ageing on auditory processing.

Two of our student projects have explored the topic and the results were presented at the British Society of Audiology Annual Conference in 2011 and published in the conference proceedings: Effects of Ageing on Dichotic Listening (oral presentation: N. Campbell).

A PhD student is now being recruited to look at the auditory processing of the 4 audiometric phenotypes related to ageing, i.e. ‘older-normal’, ‘metabolic’, ‘sensory’ and ‘sensory and metabolic’.

Overview of the two completed studies:

Temporal Processing and Dichotic Listening: the effects of ageing
E. Rankin and N. Campbell

The first study compared the temporal processing and dichotic listening of 14 older subjects (50-65 years) (in active employment, with pure tone threshold levels of ≤ 30 dB HL) with normative data for the dichotic digits test (free recall, low linguistic load) and found significantly poorer scores for older subjects, as well as an increased right ear advantage.

Dichotic Listening: The Effect of Ageing
S. Greer and N. Campbell

In the second study a stricter criterion was set for pure tone thresholds (≤ 25 dB HL) and a battery of dichotic tests (2- and 3-pair dichotic digits, dichotic consonant-vowel test, dichotic sentence identification tests and competing sentence test) encompassing both the ‘free’ and ‘forced’ recall conditions and tests with increasing linguistic loads was used. Fourteen younger (18-25 years) and 14 older subjects (50-65 years) (equal distribution of male and female subjects) were included and the results showed no significant increase in the right ear advantage of the older group (for both males and females) across the test battery. The results suggest that an increased right ear advantage may not be present for the ‘older-normal’ audiometric phenotype (where hearing is ≤ 25 dB HL), or alternatively that this increase may only occur above the age of 65 years.

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science

Our ageing population makes it imperative that we fully understand the effects of ageing on hearing to ensure a high standard of clinical care.



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