Tuesday, April 20, 2021

APC Study on How Age Affects Cortical Tracking

Researchers from the Auditory Perception and Cognition (APC) Lab in the Psychology Department recently released research on the effect of age on cortical tracking of word-level features of continuous competing speech. The paper titled, “Effects of Age on Cortical Tracking of Word-Level Features of Continuous Competing Speech,” was co-authored by Juraj Mesik, Lucia Ray, and Magdalena Wojtczak.

The study investigated the effects of age on cortical tracking and their relationship with self-reported difficulties with speech-in-noise understanding. Cortical tracking shows how well the EEG signal that is dominated by cortical responses, measured during speech, follows specific characteristics of speech stimuli. During these EEG recordings, younger and older participants listened to a narrative story in the presence of another story that the participants were asked to ignore. Researchers then used forward encoding models to estimate cortical tracking of speech patterns (word onsets, semantic dissimilarity, lexical surprisal, and overall word audibility). Results found that there was robust tracking of all features. Specifically, surprisal and word audibility showed significantly stronger contributions to neural activity. Additionally, older adults were found to exhibit significantly stronger tracking of word-level features than younger adults. These results show the utility of modeling cortical responses to multi-talker speech through the use of word-level features.

The APC Lab focuses on how the ear and brain work together to interpret the complex array of acoustic information that is encountered in everyday life.

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.