Effect of Hearing Loss on Selective Attention from Childhood to Adulthood

Jun 12, 2020 | NURJ x EXPO 2020 Poster

Shreya Sriram, Kristi Ward, Tina Grieco-Calub

AdviserDr. Tina Grieco-Calub
Subject:Communication Sciences and Disorders

Shreya Sriram ‘22 is a sophomore majoring in Economics and Communication Sciences and Disorders on the Pre-Medicine track. As an incoming co-Editor-in-Chief of the NURJ, Shreya believes that promoting student research on all platforms is imperative to growth and is looking forward to adding more facets to the NURJ publications. Shreya pursues her professional interests through her individual research in the Hearing and Language Lab. She will also be joining the Auditory Research Laboratory to spearhead development of optical cochlear implants through the Summer Undergraduate Research Grant and the Central Auditory Physiology Laboratory to research auditory brainstem function. Shreya hopes to develop her research experience in medical school. Outside of research, Shreya loves to be on stage making people laugh, then off stage, eating food with them.


Listeners have difficulty understanding speech in environments containing background noise. This difficulty is exacerbated for listeners with hearing loss, which is often attributed to the degradation of the speech signal caused by interfering noise, impaired hearing, hearing device processing, or a combination of these factors. To resolve and understand speech despite this degradation, listeners must allocate attention to the speech signal and inhibit their attention to competing background noise. Thus, the inability to selectively attend to speech is expected to reduce speech recognition. Consistent with this idea is the observation that selective auditory attention is poorer in children with hearing loss, and these abilities partially account for children’s difficulty understanding speech in background noise. However, it remains unknown whether the effects of hearing loss on selective attention persist into adulthood and, if so, whether this contributes to the speech recognition difficulties of young adults with hearing loss. The present study aimed to address the first of these knowledge gaps by having young adults with hearing loss and normal hearing perform selective attention tasks in the auditory and visual domains. Young adults with hearing loss demonstrated similar selective attention to their peers with normal hearing in the visual domain, but not in the auditory domain. This latter finding, however, may have been related to poor audibility among the hearing loss group. The data support the idea that audibility is important for selective auditory attention in adults.