The influence of lexical-access ability and vocabulary knowledge on measures of speech recognition in noise

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The main objective was to investigate the effect of linguistic abilities (lexical-access ability and vocabulary size) on different measures of speech-in-noise recognition in normal-hearing listeners with various levels of language proficiency. Design: Speech reception thresholds (SRTs) were measured for sentences in steady-state (SRTstat) and fluctuating noise (SRTfluc), and for digit-triplets in steady-state noise (DIN). Lexical-access ability was measured with a lexical-decision test and a word-naming test. Vocabulary size was also measured. For the SRT, keyword scoring and sentence scoring were compared. Study sample: To introduce variation in linguistic abilities, three groups of 24 young normal-hearing listeners were included: higher-educated native, lower-educated native, and higher-educated non-native listeners. Results: Lexical-access ability was most accurately measured with combined results of lexical decision and word naming. Lexical-access ability explained 60% of the variance in SRT. The effect of linguistic abilities on SRTs was up to 5.6 dB for SRTstat and 8 dB for SRTfluc. Using keyword scoring reduced this effect by approximately 1.5 dB. For DIN the effect of linguistic ability was less than 1 dB. Conclusions: Lexical-access ability is an important predictor of SRTs in normal-hearing listeners. These results are important to consider in the interpretation of speech-in-noise scores of hearing-impaired listeners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Linguistics
  • Male
  • Noise
  • Speech Reception Threshold Test
  • Speech-in-noise recognition
  • Vocabulary
  • Young Adult
  • lexical access
  • normal hearing
  • vocabulary size

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