Aging effects on the neural representation and perception of consonant transition cues

Abigail Anne Poe, Hanin Karawani, Samira Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older listeners have difficulty processing temporal cues that are important for word discrimination, and deficient processing may limit their ability to benefit from these cues. Here, we investigated aging effects on perception and neural representation of the consonant transition and the factors that contribute to successful perception. To further understand the neural mechanisms underlying the changes in processing from brainstem to cortex, we also examined the factors that contribute to exaggerated amplitudes in cortex. We enrolled 30 younger normal-hearing and 30 older normal-hearing participants who met the criteria of clinically normal hearing. Perceptual identification functions were obtained for the words BEAT and WHEAT on a 7-step continuum of consonant-transition duration. Auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were recorded to click stimuli and frequency-following responses (FFRs) and cortical auditory-evoked potentials were recorded to the endpoints of the BEAT-WHEAT continuum. Perceptual performance for identification of BEAT vs. WHEAT did not differ between younger and older listeners. However, both subcortical and cortical measures of neural representation showed age group differences, such that FFR phase locking was lower but cortical amplitudes (P1 and N1) were higher in older compared to younger listeners. ABR Wave I amplitude and FFR phase locking, but not audiometric thresholds, predicted early cortical amplitudes. Phase locking to the transition region and early cortical peak amplitudes (P1) predicted performance on the perceptual identification function. Overall, results suggest that the neural representation of transition durations and cortical overcompensation may contribute to the ability to perceive transition duration contrasts. Cortical overcompensation appears to be a maladaptive response to decreased neural firing/synchrony.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109034
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Jul 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024


  • Aging
  • Consonant-vowel transition
  • Cortical overcompensation
  • Phase locking
  • Temporal processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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