Age-related differences in processing of emotions in speech disappear with babble noise in the background

Yehuda I. Dor, Daniel Algom, Vered Shakuf, Boaz M. Ben-David*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Older adults process emotional speech differently than young adults, relying less on prosody (tone) relative to semantics (words). This study aimed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these age-related differences via an emotional speech-in-noise test. A sample of 51 young and 47 older adults rated spoken sentences with emotional content on both prosody and semantics, presented on the background of wideband speech-spectrum noise (sensory interference) or on the background of multi-talker babble (sensory/cognitive interference). The presence of wideband noise eliminated age-related differences in semantics but not in prosody when processing emotional speech. Conversely, the presence of babble resulted in the elimination of age-related differences across all measures. The results suggest that both sensory and cognitive-linguistic factors contribute to age-related changes in emotional speech processing. Because real world conditions typically involve noisy background, our results highlight the importance of testing under such conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition and Emotion
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Science FoundationISF-543-19, ISF 1726/22
Israel Science Foundation

    Keywords

    • aging
    • emotions
    • noise
    • sensory-cognitive interactions
    • Speech processing

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