Human Evoked Cortical Activity to Silent Gaps in Noise: Effects of Age, Attention, and Cortical Processing Speed

Ear and Hearing, 05/11/2012

The results from the present study are broadly consistent with previous findings that older adults exhibit significantly poorer gap detection than younger adults in challenging tasks. Even after adjusting for poorer gap detection, older and younger adults showed robust differences in their electrophysiological responses to sound offset. Furthermore, the degree to which attention modulated the event–related potential (ERP) was associated with individual variation in measures of processing speed and gap detection. Taken together, these results suggest an age–related deficit in early or automatic levels of auditory temporal processing and that some older adults may be less able to compensate for declines in processing by attending to the stimulus. These results extend the previous findings and support the hypothesis that age–related differences in cognitive or attention–related processing, including processing speed, contribute to an age–related decrease in gap detection.

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