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Poster A8

Event Processing during Story Listening in Background Noise

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Ryan Panela1,2 (, Alexander Barnett2, Morgan Barense1,2, Björn Herrmann1,2; 1Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Academy for Research and Education, 2Department of Psychology, University of Toronto

Investigations into speech-comprehension difficulties often focus on the intelligibility of short, disconnected, sentences, possibly limiting the generalization to everyday listening. Novel approaches to understanding naturalistic speech listening are critical to gaining insight into impaired speech processing. Event cognition research research reveals that continuous environmental information is perceived, encoded, and recalled as temporally-extended, discrete events—demarcated by event boundaries, signifying distinct units of perception. However, this research has not been leveraged to understand speech comprehension under acoustic challenges. In the current study, participants (18-38 years) listened to or read three 10-minute stories. Spoken stories were overlayed with a twelve-talker babble in three conditions ranging from easy to difficult speech intelligibility: clear, +2 dB SNR, and -4 dB SNR. Participants were instructed to identify event boundaries and subsequently recall the narrative. Results show that speech intelligibility decreased with decreasing SNR, as expected, whereas recall only decreased for the -4 dB SNR condition, relative to clear and +2 dB SNR. Event boundary placement was more consistent during reading compared to listening under all speech-masking conditions, suggesting that listening, makes segmenting information more challenging. Critically, event boundaries were more consistently placed for the +2 dB SNR and clear conditions compared to the -4 dB SNR. These results suggest that background noise may hinder the cognitive ability to organize and structure speech, resulting in evident encoding and recall are impediments. Our results reveal a crucial link between background noise and event processing during speech listening.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Auditory


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April 13–16  |  2024