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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02421

Longitudinal Speech Recognition in Noise in Children: Effects of Hearing Status and Vocabulary

  • 1The University of Iowa, United States
  • 2Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Iowa, United States
  • 3Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, United States
  • 4Boys Town National Research Hospital, United States

Objectives: The aims of the current study were 1) to compare growth trajectories of speech recognition in noise for children with normal hearing (CNH) and children who are hard of hearing (CHH) and 2) to determine the effects of auditory access, vocabulary size, and working memory on growth trajectories of speech recognition in noise in CHH.
Design: Participants included 290 children enrolled in a longitudinal study. Children received a comprehensive battery of measures annually, including speech recognition in noise, vocabulary, and working memory. We collected measures of unaided and aided hearing and daily hearing aid (HA) use to quantify aided auditory experience (i.e., HA dosage). We used a longitudinal regression framework to examine the trajectories of speech recognition in noise in CNH and CHH. To determine factors that were associated with growth trajectories for CHH, we used a longitudinal regression model in which the dependent variable was speech recognition in noise scores, and the independent variables were grade, maternal education level, age at confirmation of hearing loss, vocabulary scores, working memory scores, and HA dosage.
Results: We found a significant effect of grade and hearing status. Older children and CNH showed stronger speech recognition in noise scores compared to younger children and CHH. The growth trajectories for both groups were parallel over time. For CHH, older age, stronger vocabulary skills, and greater average HA dosage supported speech recognition in noise.
Conclusion: The current study is among the first to compare developmental growth rates in speech recognition for CHH and CNH. CHH demonstrated persistent deficits in speech recognition in noise out to age 11, with no evidence of convergence or divergence between groups. These trends highlight the need to provide support for children with all degrees of hearing loss in the academic setting as they transition into secondary grades. The results also elucidate factors that influence growth trajectories for speech recognition in noise for children; stronger vocabulary skills and higher HA dosage supported speech recognition in degraded situations. This knowledge helps us to develop a more comprehensive model for models of spoken word recognition in children.

Keywords: Children, vocabulary, working memory, Hearing Loss, speech recognition

Received: 30 Apr 2019; Accepted: 11 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Walker, Sapp, Oleson and McCreery. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Elizabeth Walker, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States,