Over 50’s Listener fatigue
“…It’s common knowledge that older people are more likely to have hearing problems, making it more difficult for them to understand others. But even people whose hearing is good can experience issues with this: they can hear sound, but don’t understand the message. “That's why we wanted to see what happens in the brain in these cases,” says PhD student Lien Decruy.
The team led by Professor Tom Francart had 54 participants between 17 and 82 years old with normal hearing listen to sentences and stories. To find out if the participants were able to understand the speech properly, the researchers used a new method that allows parts of the offered speech to be decoded from the brain activity. The effect of background noise on speech understanding was measured by adding different types of interference, such as static noise or someone talking in the background. Their conclusion…
The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to reverse changes in the brain that correspond with hearing problems.
Although all participants had normal hearing according to a traditional hearing test, the results show that those over 50yo had more trouble understanding speech. It remains fairly stable until the age of 50, but after that it goes downhill quickly. The older participants did show a higher brain activity, which may indicate that they need to use more brain areas to understand speech. This can cause them to tire more quickly, and leaves less brain capacity for other mental processes. “That seems logical, as older people often say that they find it difficult to understand speech,” Decruy explains.” See link here