Search Abstracts | Symposia | Slide Sessions | Poster Sessions | Lightning Talks

Reduced Neural Speech Tracking in Adolescents with Listening Difficulty: The Role of Talker Cues in Competing Speech Tasks

There is a Poster PDF for this presentation, but you must be a current member or registered to attend SNL 2023 to view it. Please go to your Account Home page to register.

Poster B69 in Poster Session B, Tuesday, October 24, 3:30 - 5:15 pm CEST, Espace Vieux-Port

Katsuaki Kojima1,2, Chunyan Liu3, Shelley Ehrlich2,3, Harvey Dillon4,5, Lisa Hunter2,6,7, David Moore5,6,7; 1Perinatal Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA, 2Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA, 3Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA, 4Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 5Manchester Center for Audiology and Deafness, School of Health Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom, 6Communication Sciences Research Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA, 7Departments of Otolaryngology and Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH, USA

Background: An estimated 1-5% of children with clinically normal audiograms experience listening difficulty (LiD). This condition manifests as challenges in hearing and comprehending speech, particularly when multiple talkers speak simultaneously. These difficulties can, in turn, negatively affect language acquisition and cognitive development. A critical component for focusing on a target speaker among multiple talkers is the slow amplitude modulation, or amplitude envelope, of speech sounds. Speech amplitude envelope is integral to neural speech tracking, which represents the synchronization of cortical neural signals with the speech envelope. Neural speech tracking is quantified using inter-event phase coherence (IEPC) in the theta band neural signals, which occur following rapid increases in the amplitude envelope. During tasks involving competing speech, participants utilize different cues to segregate speech. Prior research has emphasized the role of spatial cues, which segregate speech based on location, and talker cues, which segregate speech by speaker identity. These cues represent auditory sensory and cognitive processing, respectively. Objective: This study aimed to contrast speech tracking between children with and without LiD, evaluate the influence of spatial and talker cues, and explore the association between speech tracking, cognitive performance, and parental reports of listening skills. Methods: We studied 14 adolescents with LiD and 15 typically developing (TD) controls using magnetoencephalography (MEG), behavioral tests, and questionnaires. The diagnosis of LiD was confirmed using parental reports of listening skills. During the MEG recording, participants listened to five stories, each lasting five minutes. One story was noise-free, while the remaining four with competing speech, where participants were instructed to concentrate on one speaker amongst three. Competing speech conditions varied based on the presence of talker and spatial cues. We compared IEPC across groups using 2D cluster-based permutation tests. We applied mixed-effect models to examine the effect of group, noise, spatial cue, talker cue, and their interactions. Furthermore, the associations between theta IEPC, cognitive performance, and parental reports of listening skills were evaluated using linear regression models. Results: Both TD and LiD participants showed significant neural speech tracking in bilateral temporal sensors, diminished in competing speech conditions. The LiD group exhibited lower speech tracking than the TD group, indicating impaired speech envelope processing. Uniquely, only the LiD group improved speech tracking with talker cues, suggesting a heightened susceptibility to loss of these cues and echoing known cognitive processing challenges. Both groups significantly improved with the presence of both talker and spatial cues, hinting at a synergistic effect. Despite significant associations between speech tracking measures, listening, and cognitive skills in simple regression models, these associations were non-significant after controlling for group differences, suggesting these associations were due to the different listening and cognitive performances between the groups. Conclusions: This exploratory study demonstrated speech tracking in children with and without LiD. Our findings suggest that adolescents with LiD have lower speech tracking and may utilize different cues to segregate competing speech, indicative of potential impairments in cognitive speech processing.

Topic Areas: Speech Perception, Disorders: Developmental

SNL Account Login

Forgot Password?
Create an Account