The effect of monetary reward on listening effort and sentence recognition

Thomas Koelewijn, Adriana A. Zekveld, Thomas Lunner, Sophia E. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Recently we showed that higher reward results in increased pupil dilation during listening (listening effort). Remarkably, this effect was not accompanied with improved speech reception. Still, increased listening effort may reflect more in-depth processing, potentially resulting in a better memory representation of speech. Here, we investigated this hypothesis by also testing the effect of monetary reward on recognition memory performance. Twenty-four young adults performed speech reception threshold (SRT) tests, either hard or easy, in which they repeated sentences uttered by a female talker masked by a male talker. We recorded the pupil dilation response during listening. Participants could earn a high or low reward and the four conditions were presented in a blocked fashion. After each SRT block, participants performed a visual sentence recognition task. In this task, the sentences that were presented in the preceding SRT task were visually presented in random order and intermixed with unfamiliar sentences. Participants had to indicate whether they had previously heard the sentence or not. The SRT and sentence recognition were affected by task difficulty but not by reward. Contrary to our previous results, peak pupil dilation did not reflect effects of reward. However, post-hoc time course analysis (GAMMs) revealed that in the hard SRT task, the pupil response was larger for high than low reward. We did not observe an effect of reward on visual sentence recognition. Hence, the current results provide no conclusive evidence that the effect of monetary reward on the pupil response relates to the memory encoding of speech.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108255
JournalHearing research
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Listening effort
  • Monetary reward
  • Pupil response
  • Sentence recognition
  • Speech reception

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