Age-Related Changes in Cognition and Speech Perception
The Korean Audiological Society -- Korean Journal of Audiology
DOI 10.7874/kja.2013.17.2.54
  1. Aging
  2. Cognition
  3. Speech perception
  4. Plasticity

Aging is one of the most evident biological processes, but its mechanisms are still poorly understood. Studies of cognitive aging suggest that age is associated with cognitive decline; however, there may be individual differences such that not all older adults will experience cognitive decline. That is, cognitive decline is not intrinsic to aging, but there is some heterogeneity. Many researchers have shown that speech recognition declines with increasing age. Some of the age-related decline in speech perception can be accounted for by peripheral sensory problems but cognitive aging can also be a contributing factor. The potential sources of reduced recognition for rapid speech in the aged are reduction in processing time and reduction of the acoustic information in the signal. However, other studies also indicated that speech perception does not decline with age. Cognitive abilities are inherently involved in speech processing. Two cognitive factors that decline with age may influence speech perception performance. The first factor is working memory capacity and the second factor concerns the rate of information processing, defined generally as the speed at which an individual can extract content and construct meaning from a rapid signal. Cognitive function shows the adaptive processes with age which are consistent with the view that the brain itself has potentially a life-long capacity for neural plasticity. Assessing the speech perception difficulty in older adults, cognitive function could be considered in the evaluation and management of speech perception problem.