Behavioral Studies With Aging Humans: Hearing Sensitivity and Psychoacoustics

  • Peter J. FitzgibbonsEmail author
  • Sandra Gordon-Salant
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 34)


Historically, the study of human aging and hearing has focused on problems of speech perception and comprehension experienced by older listeners. An earlier comprehensive review of these problems (Committee on Hearing, Bioacoustics, and Biomechanics [CHABA] 1988) outlined the scope of the age-related listening difficulties and pointed to several areas of interest where information was lacking and greater study was needed. Some of the research needs cited are specific to speech processing and aging (see Humes and Dubno, Chapter 8) and to general aspects of cognition and audition (see Schneider, Pichora-Fuller, and Daneman, Chapter 7). Equally important are questions about the extent to which aging of the auditory system compromises listeners’ ability to process simple and complex nonspeech sounds. This topic is explored in the present chapter by a review of recent psychoacoustic studies that were conducted to identify those auditory abilities and processes that appear to be affected by aging. Where possible, age-related alterations in processing mechanisms associated with spectral, intensive, and temporal aspects of sound are linked to known anatomical and physiological changes with age in the auditory system (see Schmiedt, Chapter 2; Canlon, Illing, and Walton, Chapter 3). A related goal of the psychoacoustic investigations is to identify some of the possible contributing factors that underlie the speech understanding difficulties of older listeners.


Hearing Loss Sensorineural Hearing Loss Noise Exposure Hearing Threshold Auditory Nerve Fiber 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hearing, Speech, and Language SciencesGallaudet UniversityWashingtonUSA

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