Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Shifts in Maximum Audiovisual Integration with Age

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

For more content, see Seeing and Perceiving and Spatial Vision.

Listeners attempting to understand speech in noisy environments rely on visual and auditory processes, typically referred to as audiovisual processing. Noise corrupts the auditory speech signal and listeners naturally leverage visual cues from the talker’s face in an attempt to interpret the degraded auditory signal. Studies of speech intelligibility in noise show that the maximum improvement in speech recognition performance (i.e., maximum visual enhancement or VEmax), derived from seeing an interlocutor’s face, is invariant with age. Several studies have reported that VEmax is typically associated with a signal-to-noise (SNR) of −12 dB; however, few studies have systematically investigated whether the SNR associated with VEmax changes with age. We investigated if VEmax changes as a function of age, whether the SNR at VEmax changes as a function of age, and what perceptual/cognitive abilities account for or mediate such relationships. We measured VEmax on a nongeriatric adult sample (N=64) ranging in age from 20 to 59 years old. We found that VEmax was age-invariant, replicating earlier studies. No perceptual/cognitive measures predicted VEmax, most likely due to limited variance in VEmax scores. Importantly, we found that the SNR at VEmax shifts toward higher (quieter) SNR levels with increasing age; however, this relationship is partially mediated by working memory capacity, where those with larger working memory capacities (WMCs) can identify speech under lower (louder) SNR levels than their age equivalents with smaller WMCs. The current study is the first to report that individual differences in WMC partially mediate the age-related shift in SNR at VEmax.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Psychology, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA ; 2: 2Department of Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, USA

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Akeroyd M. A. (2008). "Are individual differences in speech reception related to individual differences in cognitive ability? A survey of twenty experimental studies with normal and hearing-impaired adults", Int. J. Audiol. Vol 47, S53S71. [Crossref]
2. Alsius A., Wayne R. V., Paré M., Munhall K. G. (2016). "High visual resolution matters in audiovisual speech perception, but only for some", Atten. Percept. Psychophys. Vol 78, 14721487. [Crossref]
3. Ball K., Owsley C. (1992). "The useful field of view test: a new technique for evaluating age-related declines in visual function", J. Am. Optom. Assoc. Vol 63, 7179.
4. Ball K. K., Beard B. L., Roenker D. L., Miller R. L., Griggs D. S. (1988). "Age and visual search: expanding the useful field of view", J. Opt. Soc. Am. A Opt. Image Sci. Vis. Vol 5, 22102219. [Crossref]
5. Bergman M., Blumenfeld V. G., Cascardo D., Dash B., Levitt H., Margulies M. K. (1976). "Age-related decrement in hearing for speech. Sampling and longitudinal studies", J. Gerontol. Vol 31, 533538. [Crossref]
6. Besser J., Koelewijn T., Zekveld A. A., Kramer S. E., Festen J. M. (2013). "How linguistic closure and verbal working memory relate to speech recognition in noise — a review", Trends Amplif. Vol 17, 7593. [Crossref]
7. Committee on Hearing, Bioacoustics, and Biomechanics (1988). "Speech understanding and aging", J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Vol 83, 859895. [Crossref]
8. Coren S. (1989). "Summarizing pure-tone hearing thresholds: the equipollence of components of the audiogram", Bull. Psychon. Soc. Vol 27, 4244. [Crossref]
9. Cosatto E., Graf H. P. (2000). "Photo-realistic talking-heads from image samples", IEEE Trans. Multimedia Vol 2, 152163. [Crossref]
10. Dubno J. R., Dirks D. D., Morgan D. E. (1984). "Effects of age and mild hearing loss on speech recognition in noise", J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Vol 76, 8796. [Crossref]
11. Edwards J. D., Ross L. A., Wadley V. G., Clay O. J., Crowe M., Roenker D. L., Ball K. K. (2006). "The useful field of view test: normative data for older adults", Arch. Clin. Neuropsychol. Vol 21, 275286. [Crossref]
12. Ellis R. J., Munro K. J. (2013). "Does cognitive function predict frequency compressed speech recognition in listeners with normal hearing and normal cognition?" Int. J. Audiol. Vol 52, 1422. [Crossref]
13. Engle R. W. (2002). "Working memory capacity as executive attention", Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. Vol 11, 1923. [Crossref]
14. Erber N. P. (1979). "Auditory-visual perception of speech with reduced optical clarity", J. Speech Hear. Res. Vol 22, 212223. [Crossref]
15. Ferris F. L. 3rd, Kassoff A., Bresnick G. H., Bailey I. (1982). "New visual acuity charts for clinical research", Am. J. Ophthalmol. Vol 94, 9196. [Crossref]
16. Field A. (2013). Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics, 4th edn. SAGE Publications, London, UK.
17. Francis A. L., Nusbaum H. C. (2009). "Effects of intelligibility on working memory demand for speech perception", Atten. Percept. Psychophys. Vol 71, 13601374. [Crossref]
18. Gordon-Salant S. (2005). "Hearing loss and aging: new research findings and clinical implications", J. Rehabil. Res. Dev. Vol 42, 924. [Crossref]
19. Grant K. W., Seitz P. F. (1998). "Measures of auditory-visual integration in nonsense syllabes and sentences", J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Vol 104, 24382450. [Crossref]
20. Hugenschmidt C. E., Mozolic J. L., Laurienti P. J. (2009). "Suppression of multisensory integration by modality-specific attention in aging", Neuroreport Vol 20, 349353. [Crossref]
21. Humes L. E. (2007). "The contributions of audibility and cognitive factors to the benefit provided by amplified speech to older adults", J. Am. Acad. Audiol. Vol 18, 590603. [Crossref]
22. Humes L. E. (2008). "Aging and speech communication", ASHA Lead. Vol 13, 1033.
23. Humes L. E. (2015). "Research forum on changes in sensory perception in middle-aged adults: a summary of a special session at hearing across the lifespan (HEAL) 2014", Am. J. Audiol. Vol 24, 79.
24. Institute of Medicine (2008). Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, 1st edn. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
25. Janse E. (2012). "A non-auditory measure of interference predicts distraction by competing speech in older adults", Neuropsychol. Dev. Cogn. B Aging Neuropsychol. Cogn. Vol 19, 741758. [Crossref]
26. Janse E., Jesse A. (2014). "Working memory affects older adults’ use of context in spoken-word recognition", Q. J. Exp. Psychol. Vol 67, 18421862. [Crossref]
27. Jansen S., Chaparro A., Downs D., Palmer E., Keebler J. (2013). "Visual and cognitive predictors of visual enhancement in noisy listening conditions", in: Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, USA, pp.  11991203.
28. Jansen S. D. (2016). Working memory capacity modulates the effects of noise on speech recognition for non-geriatric adults. PhD Thesis, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA. Available at (Accessed: 1 December 2016).
29. Jerger J. (1992). "Can age-related decline in speech understanding be explained by peripheral hearing loss?" J. Am. Acad. Audiol. Vol 3, 3338.
30. Killion M. C., Villchur E. (1993). "Kessler was right-partly: but SIN test shows some aids improve hearing in noise", Hear. J. Vol 46, 3134.
31. Kjellberg A., Ljung R., Hallman D. (2008). "Recall of words heard in noise", Appl. Cogn. Psychol. Vol 22, 10881098. [Crossref]
32. Kutz J. K., Campbell K. C. M., Mullin G. (2015). Audiology Pure-Tone Testing. Available online at (accessed January 1, 2016).
33. Legault I., Gagné J. P., Rhoualem W., Anderson-Gosselin P. (2010). "The effects of blurred vision on auditory-visual speech perception in younger and older adults", Int. J. Audiol. Vol 49, 904911. [Crossref]
34. Liu X. Z., Yan D. (2007). "Ageing and hearing loss", J. Pathol. Vol 211, 188197. [Crossref]
35. Loebach J. L., Altieri N., Pisoni D. B. (2012a). Lip reading ability is related to visual attention in normal hearing subjects, unpublished poster presentation at:
36. Loebach J. L., Burton J., Sennott B., Phillips S., Stork C. (2012b). Lip reading ability is influenced by visual attention, unpublished poster presentation at:
37. Ma W. J., Zhou X., Ross L. A., Foxe J. J., Parra L. C. (2009). "Lip-reading aids word recognition most in moderate noise: a Bayesian explanation using high-dimensional feature space", PLoS One Vol 4, e4638. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0004638.
38. MacLeod A., Summerfield Q. (1990). "A procedure for measuring auditory and audio-visual speech-reception thresholds for sentences in noise: rationale, evaluation, and recommendations for use", Br. J. Audiol. Vol 24, 2943. [Crossref]
39. Martin J. S., Jerger J. F. (2005). "Some effects of aging on central auditory processing", J. Rehabil. Res. Dev. Vol 42, 2544. [Crossref]
40. McCoy S. L., Tun P. A., Cox L. C., Colangelo M., Stewart R. A., Wingfield A. (2005). "Hearing loss and perceptual effort: downstream effects on older adults’ memory for speech", Q. J. Exp. Psychol. Vol 58, 2233. [Crossref]
41. Morris N. L. (2011). Effects of simulated catracts on speechreading. PhD Thesis, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS, USA. Available at (Accessed: 27 February 2012).
42. Morris N. L., Chaparro A., Downs D., Wood J. M. (2012). "Effects of simulated cataracts on speech intelligibility", Vision Res. Vol 66, 4954. [Crossref]
43. Mukari S. Z. M., Wahat N. H. A., Mazlan R. (2014). "Effects of ageing and hearing thresholds on speech perception in quiet and in noise perceived in different locations", Korean J. Audiol. Vol 18, 112118. [Crossref]
44. Munhall K. G., Jones J. A., Callan D. E., Kuratate T., Vatikiotis-Bateson E. (2004a). "Visual prosody and speech intelligibility: head movement improves auditory speech perception", Psychol. Sci. Vol 15, 133137. [Crossref]
45. Munhall K. G., Kroos C., Jozan G., Vatikiotis-Bateson E. (2004b). "Spatial frequency requirements for audiovisual speech perception", Percept. Psychophys. Vol 66, 574583. [Crossref]
46. Murphy D. R., Craik F. I., Li K. Z., Schneider B. A. (2000). "Comparing the effects of aging and background noise on short-term memory performance", Psychol. Aging Vol 15, 323334. [Crossref]
47. Narinesingh C., Wan M., Goltz H. C., Chandrakumar M., Wong A. M. (2014). "Audiovisual perception in adults with amblyopia: a study using the McGurk effect", Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. Vol 55, 31583164. [Crossref]
48. Pelli D. G., Robson J. G., Wilkins A. J. (1988). "The design of a new letter chart for measuring contrast sensitivity", Clin. Vision Sci. Vol 2, 187199.
49. Putzar L., Goerendt I., Lange K., Rösler F., Röder B. (2007). "Early visual deprivation impairs multisensory interactions in humans", Nat. Neurosci. Vol 10, 12431245. [Crossref]
50. Putzar L., Goerendt I., Heed T., Richard G., Büchel C., Röder B. (2010a). "The neural basis of lip-reading capabilities is altered by early visual deprivation", Neuropsychologia Vol 48, 21582166. [Crossref]
51. Putzar L., Hötting K., Röder B. (2010b). "Early visual deprivation affects the development of face recognition and of audio-visual speech perception", Restor. Neurol. Neurosci. Vol 28, 251257.
52. Reitan R. M. (1958). "Validity of the trail making test as an indicator of organic brain damage", Percept. Mot. Skills Vol 8, 271276. [Crossref]
53. Reitan R. M. (1992). Trail Making Test: Manual for Administration and Scoring. Reitan Neuropsychology Laboratory, Tucson, AZ, USA.
54. Romano P. E., Berlow S. (1974). "Vision requirements for lip reading", Am. Ann. Deaf Vol 119, 383386.
55. Rönnberg J., Arlinger S., Lyxell B., Kinnefors C. (1989). "Visual evoked potentials: relation to adult speechreading and cognitive function", J. Speech Hear. Res. Vol 32, 725735. [Crossref]
56. Rönnberg J., Rudner M., Lunner T., Zekveld A. A. (2010). "When cognition kicks in: working memory and speech understanding in noise", Noise Health Vol 12, 263269. [Crossref]
57. Rosenblum L. D., Saldaña H. M. (1996). "An audiovisual test of kinematic primitives for visual speech perception", J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. Vol 22, 318331. [Crossref]
58. Ross J. E., Clarke D. D., Bron A. J. (1985). "Effect of age on contrast sensitivity function: uniocular and binocular findings", Br. J. Ophthalmol. Vol 69, 5156. [Crossref]
59. Ross L. A., Saint-Amour D., Leavitt V. M., Javitt D. C., Foxe J. J. (2007). "Do you see what I am saying? Exploring visual enhancement of speech comprehension in noisy environments", Cereb. Cortex Vol 17, 11471153. [Crossref]
60. Ross L. A., Molholm S., Blanco D., Gomez-Ramirez M., Saint-Amour D., Foxe J. J. (2011). "The development of multisensory speech perception continues into the late childhood years", Eur. J. Neurosci. Vol 33, 23292337. [Crossref]
61. Schneider B. A., Daneman M., Pichora-Fuller M. K. (2002). "Listening in aging adults: from discourse comprehension to psychoacoustics", Can. J. Exp. Psychol. Vol 56, 139152. [Crossref]
62. Sennott B., Straehley I., Mork D., Coppalle R., Loebach J. L. (2011). Lip-reading ability in normal hearing listeners. Unpublished poster presentation at:
63. Sommers M. S., Tye-Murray N., Spehar B. (2005). "Auditory-visual speech perception and auditory-visual enhancement in normal-hearing younger and older adults", Ear Hear. Vol 26, 263275. [Crossref]
64. Stevenson R. A., Nelms C. E., Baum S. H., Zurkovsky L., Barense M. D., Newhouse P. A., Wallace M. T. (2015). "Deficits in audiovisual speech perception in normal aging emerge at the level of whole-word recognition", Neurobiol. Aging Vol 36, 283291. [Crossref]
65. Sumby W. H., Pollack I. (1954). "Visual contribution to speech intelligibility in noise", J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Vol 26, 212215. [Crossref]
66. Tun P. A., O’Kane G., Wingfield A. (2002). "Distraction by competing speech in young and older adult listeners", Psychol. Aging Vol 17, 453467. [Crossref]
67. Tye-Murray N., Sommers M., Spehar B., Myerson J., Hale S., Rose N. S. (2008). "Auditory-visual discourse comprehension by older and young adults in favorable and unfavorable conditions", Int. J. Audiol. Vol 47, S31S37. [Crossref]
68. Tye-Murray N., Sephar B., Myerson J., Hale S., Sommers M. (2016). "Lipreading and audiovisual speech recognition across the adult lifespan: implications for audiovisual integration", Psychol. Aging Vol 31, 380389. [Crossref]
69. van Belle G. (2002). Statistical Rules of Thumb, 1st edn. Wiley, New York, NY, USA.
70. Wechsler D. (1981). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale — Revised. Psychological Corporation, New York, NY, USA.
71. Wilson A. H., Alsius A., Paré M., Munhall K. G. (2016). "Spatial frequency requirements and gaze strategy in visual-only and audiovisual speech perception", J. Speech Lang. Hear. Res. Vol 59, 601615. [Crossref]
72. Wingfield A., Tun P. A., McCoy S. L. (2005). "Hearing loss in older adulthood: what it is and how it interacts with cognitive performance", Curr. Dir. Psychol. Sci. Vol 14, 144148. [Crossref]
73. Yehia H. C., Kuratate T., Vatikiotis-Bateson E. (2002). "Linking facial animation, head motion and speech acoustics", J. Phon. Vol 30, 555568.
74. Zekveld A. A., Kramer S. E., Festen J. M. (2011). "Cognitive load during speech perception in noise: the influence of age, hearing loss, and cognition on the pupil response", Ear Hear. Vol 32, 498510. [Crossref]

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Multisensory Research — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation