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Sensory and Cognitive Factors Underlying Self-Perceived Listening Difficulties in Adults with Normal Hearing Thresholds

McHaney, Jacie R. (2023) Sensory and Cognitive Factors Underlying Self-Perceived Listening Difficulties in Adults with Normal Hearing Thresholds. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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One in ten adults seeking help at audiology clinics present with a primary complaint of listening difficulties yet have normal hearing thresholds. These adults with complaints of listening difficulties particularly struggle with speech perception in noise, which requires a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes. Prior research has largely focused on dysfunctions in bottom-up processing, yet it remains unclear how top-down processes, like decisional and linguistic processes, may contribute to self-perceived listening difficulties (SPLDs) in adults with normal hearing thresholds. Therefore, there is a critical need to understand the extent to which top-down decisional and linguistic processes during speech perception underlie SPLDs in order for clinicians to provide targeted interventions for SPLDs. In this dissertation, I examined SPLDs in adults ages 18-53 with normal hearing thresholds across two studies. In Study 1, I examined decisional processes that support speech categorization in a phoneme in noise categorization task using a computational modeling approach. I found that the rate at which listeners accumulate critical sensory evidence to make a categorization decision increases when there is less interference from background noise. Moreover, individuals with fewer SPLDs benefit from more supportive listening contexts to a greater extent than those with more SPLDs. In study 2, I examined the extent to which listeners with more SPLDs relied on different types of linguistic information to aid speech comprehension using more naturalistic stimuli in an electroencephalography experiment. I found that speech comprehension performance did not differ based on SPLDs. However, listeners with more SPLDs had increased representations of sentence-level information during listening, relative to those with fewer SPLDs. These findings suggest that listeners with more SPLDs may rely on sentence-level information as a compensatory strategy to aid comprehension performance. Taken together, the findings from this dissertation demonstrate that listeners with more SPLDs have different approaches to listening. These results encourage further investigation into SPLDs in adults with normal hearing thresholds.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McHaney, Jacie R.j.mchaney@pitt.edujbm900000-0002-1148-4018
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairChandrasekaran, Bharathb.chandra@pitt.edubhc170000-0002-3673-9435
Committee MemberHampton Wray, Amandahamptonwray@pitt.edu0000-0001-7049-8797
Committee MemberParthasarathy, Aravindakshanaravind_partha@pitt.edu0000-0002-4573-8004
Committee MemberGnanateja, G. Nikenikegnanateja.gurindapalli@wisc.edu0000-0001-7949-1524
Date: 6 June 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 March 2023
Approval Date: 6 June 2023
Submission Date: 27 March 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 113
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: speech in noise cortical tracking neural tracking hidden hearing loss speech categorization
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2023 13:53
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2023 13:53

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