Effect of minimal hearing loss on children's ability to multitask in quiet and in noise

Brittany McFadden, Andrea Pittman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Scopus citations


    Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of minimal hearing loss (HL) on children's ability to perform simultaneous tasks in quiet and in noise. Method: Ten children with minimal HL and 11 children with normal hearing (NH) participated. Both groups ranged in age from 8 to 12 years. The children categorized common words (primary task) while completing dot-to-dot games (secondary task) in quiet as well as in noise presented at 0 dB and +6 dB signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). It was hypothesized that the children's progression through the dot-to-dot games would slow as they encountered more difficult listening environments. This hypothesis was based on the theory that listeners have limited cognitive resources to allocate to any combination of tasks. Results: The dot rate of both groups decreased similarly in the multitasking conditions relative to baseline. However, no other differences between groups or listening conditions were revealed. Significantly poorer word categorization was observed for the children with minimal HL in noise. Conclusion: These data suggest that children with minimal HL may be unable to respond to a difficult listening task by drawing resources from other tasks to compensate.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)342-352
    Number of pages11
    JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2008


    • Children
    • Hearing loss
    • Listening effort
    • Multitasking
    • Noise

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Speech and Hearing


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