The speech reception threshold (SRT) is routinely measured in the laboratory to assess speech understanding in noise, but is often reported to be a poor predictor of performance in real world listening situations. The overall goal of this work is to determine whether introducing realistic aspects to speech tests can better capture individual differences and ultimately produce more relevant performance measures. We examined the psychometric effects of (a) transplanting a standard sentence-in-noise test into a simulated reverberant cafeteria environment, and (b) moving from sentence recall to a new ongoing speech comprehension task. Participants included normal hearers and hearing-impaired listeners (who were tested with and without their hearing aids). SRTs in the cafeteria environment were significantly correlated with standard SRTs, but were poorer overall and more sensitive to hearing loss. The comprehension task, despite having very different demands to sentence recall, produced similar SRTs under these conditions. The benefit of hearing aids was weakly correlated across the two listening environments and the two listening tasks. These manipulations promise to be useful for the creation of realistic laboratory tests that are engaging and challenging, yet controlled enough to be useful for psychophysical experiments.

This content is only available via PDF.