Effects of sensorineural hearing loss on visually guided attention in a multitalker environment

Virginia Best, Nicole Marrone, Christine R. Mason, Gerald Kidd, Barbara G. Shinn-Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study asked whether or not listeners with sensorineural hearing loss have an impaired ability to use top-down attention to enhance speech intelligibility in the presence of interfering talkers. Listeners were presented with a target string of spoken digits embedded in a mixture of five spatially separated speech streams. The benefit of providing simple visual cues indicating when and/or where the target would occur was measured in listeners with hearing loss, listeners with normal hearing, and a control group of listeners with normal hearing who were tested at a lower target-to-masker ratio to equate their baseline (no cue) performance with the hearing-loss group. All groups received robust benefits from the visual cues. The magnitude of the spatial-cue benefit, however, was significantly smaller in listeners with hearing loss. Results suggest that reduced utility of selective attention for resolving competition between simultaneous sounds contributes to the communication difficulties experienced by listeners with hearing loss in everyday listening situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-148
Number of pages7
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Hearing impairment
  • Spatial attention
  • Speech intelligibility
  • Top-down attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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