Ira Kurthen, Allison Christen, Martin Meyer and Nathalie Giroud published a paper regarding neural speech tracking in NeuroImage

Older adults’ neural tracking of interrupted speech is a function of task difficulty

Abstract: Age-related hearing loss is a highly prevalent condition, which manifests at both the auditory periphery and the brain. It leads to degraded auditory input, which needs to be repaired in order to achieve understanding of spoken language. It is still unclear how older adults with this condition draw on their neural resources to optimally process speech. By presenting interrupted speech to 26 healthy older adults with normal-for-age audiograms, this study investigated neural tracking of degraded auditory input. The electroencephalograms of the participants were recorded while they first listened to and then verbally repeated sentences interrupted by silence in varying interruption rates. Speech tracking was measured by inter-trial phase coherence in response to the stimuli. In interruption rates that corresponded to the theta frequency band, speech tracking was highly specific to the interruption rate and positively related to the understanding of interrupted speech. These results suggest that older adults’ brain activity optimizes through the tracking of stimulus characteristics, and that this tracking aids in processing an incomplete auditory stimulus. Further investigation of speech tracking as a candidate training mechanism to alleviate age-related hearing loss is thus encouraged.


NeuroImage, Volume 262, 2022, 119580, ISSN 1053-8119, DOI.