Reading behind the lines: The factors affecting the text reception threshold in hearing aid users

Adriana A. Zekveld, Marieke Pronk, Henrik Danielsson, Jerker Rönnberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The visual Text Reception Threshold (TRT) test (Zekveld et al., 2007) has been designed to assess modality-general factors relevant for speech perception in noise. In the last decade, the test has been adopted in audiology labs worldwide. The 1st aim of this study was to examine which factors best predict interindividual differences in the TRT. Second, we aimed to assess the relationships between the TRT and the speech reception thresholds (SRTs) estimated in various conditions. Method: First, we reviewed studies reporting relationships between the TRT and the auditory and/or cognitive factors and formulated specific hypotheses regarding the TRT predictors. These hypotheses were tested using a prediction model applied to a rich data set of 180 hearing aid users. In separate association models, we tested the relationships between the TRT and the various SRTs and subjective hearing difficulties, while taking into account potential confounding variables. Results: The results of the prediction model indicate that the TRT is predicted by the ability to fill in missing words in incomplete sentences, by lexical access speed, and by working memory capacity. Furthermore, in line with previous studies, a moderate association between higher age, poorer pure-tone hearing acuity, and poorer TRTs was observed. Better TRTs were associated with better SRTs for the correct perception of 50% of Hagerman matrix sentences in a 4-talker babble, as well as with better subjective ratings of speech perception. Age and pure-tone hearing thresholds significantly confounded these associations. The associations of the TRT with SRTs estimated in other conditions and with subjective qualities of hearing were not statistically significant when adjusting for age and pure-tone average. Conclusions: We conclude that the abilities tapped into by the TRT test include processes relevant for speeded lexical decision making when completing partly masked sentences and that these processes require working memory capacity. Furthermore, the TRT is associated with the SRT of hearing aid users as estimated in a challenging condition that includes informational masking and with experienced difficulties with speech perception in daily-life conditions. The current results underline the value of using the TRT test in studies involving speech perception and aid in the interpretation of findings acquired using the test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-775
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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