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Discrimination of auditory information as related to aging


, : Discrimination of auditory information as related to aging. J Gerontol 20(3): 394-397

Based on the premise that old people might have measurable difficulties in communication involving masked auditory stimuli, this study investigates one aspect of the discrimination of auditory information as related to aging. A comparison was made between the performance of old and young individuals on voice recognition and message output under conditions of voice interference. Two groups of subjects, 50 young adults and 50 old individuals, with self-reported adequate hearing, were matched with respect to verbal abstract reasoning and minimal verbal memory. With the use of taped materials, the subjects were given the opportunity to become familiar with the characteristics of one voice, then required to report meaningful messages relayed by that voice when masked by an interfering voice, under varying conditions of interference ratio. The results indicated that the old subjects were significantly lower on both voice recognition scores and message output scores. Further, the results seemed to be related to the complexity of the task rather than to specific factors, thus suggesting that an "overload" situation occurred affecting central integration functions. This type of information can contribute to theoretical formulations regarding the developmental process of aging.

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