In order to elucidate why many elderly listeners have difficulty understanding speech under reverberation, we investigated the relationship between word intelligibility and auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) in 28 elderly listeners. We hypothesized that the elderly listeners with low word intelligibility scores under reverberation would show degraded subcortical encoding information of reverberant speech as expressed in their ABRs towards a reverberant /da/ syllable. The participants were divided into two groups (top and bottom performance groups) according to their word intelligibility scores for anechoic and reverberant words, and ABR characteristics between groups were compared. We found that correlation coefficients between responses to anechoic and reverberant /da/ were lower in the bottom performance group than in the top performance group. This result suggests that degraded neural representation toward information of reverberant speech may account for lower intelligibility of reverberant speech in elderly listeners.
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