Age Impacts Speech-in-Noise Recognition Differently for Nonnative and Native Listeners

Ian Phillips*, Rebecca E. Bieber, Coral Dirks, Ken W. Grant, Douglas S. Brungart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore potential differences in suprathreshold auditory function among native and nonnative speakers of English as a function of age. Method: Retrospective analyses were performed on three large data sets con-taining suprathreshold auditory tests completed by 5,572 participants who were self-identified native and nonnative speakers of English between the ages of 18–65 years, including a binaural tone detection test, a digit identification test, and a sentence recognition test. Results: The analyses show a significant interaction between increasing age and participant group on tests involving speech-based stimuli (digit strings, sen-tences) but not on the binaural tone detection test. For both speech tests, dif-ferences in speech recognition emerged between groups during early adult-hood, and increasing age had a more negative impact on word recognition for nonnative compared to native participants. Age-related declines in performance were 2.9 times faster for digit strings and 3.3 times faster for sentences for non-native participants compared to native participants. Conclusions: This set of analyses extends the existing literature by examining interactions between aging and self-identified native English speaker status in several auditory domains in a cohort of adults spanning young adulthood through middle age. The finding that older nonnative English speakers in this age cohort may have greater-than-expected deficits on speech-in-noise percep-tion may have clinical implications on how these individuals should be diag-nosed and treated for hearing difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1602-1623
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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