How repetition influences speech understanding by younger, middle-aged and older adults

Karen S. Helfer, Richard L. Freyman, Gabrielle R. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine benefit from immediate repetition of a masked speech message in younger, middle-aged and older adults. Design: Participants listened to sentences in conditions where only the target message was repeated, and when both the target message and its accompanying masker (noise or speech) were repeated. In a follow-up experiment, the effect of repetition was evaluated using a square-wave modulated noise masker to compare benefit when listeners were exposed to the same glimpses of the target message during first and second presentation versus when the glimpses differed. Study Sample: Younger, middle-aged and older adults (n = 16/group) for the main experiment; 15 younger adults for the follow-up experiment. Results: Repetition benefit was larger when the target but not the masker was repeated for all groups. This was especially true for older adults, suggesting that these individuals may be more negatively affected when a background message is repeated. Data obtained using noise maskers suggest that it is slightly more beneficial when listeners hear different (versus identical) portions of speech between initial presentation and repetition. Conclusions: Although subtle age-related differences were found in some conditions, results confirm that repetition is an effective repair strategy for listeners spanning the adult age range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-702
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Speech perception
  • ageing
  • masking
  • repetition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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