Neural correlates of listening effort related factors: Influence of age and hearing impairment

In the last years, there has been a rising interest to find an objective method to estimate listening effort. Previously, we have shown that the wavelet phase synchronization stability (WPSS), gained from the instantaneous phase of auditory late responses (ALRs), could serve as a feasible measure for listening effort related factors.In the current study, we examined if the WPSS reflects the listening effort in young as well as middle-aged subjects and in persons with a different degree of hearing loss. To evoke ALR sequences, we generated syllabic paradigms with a different level of difficulty to evoke ALR sequences. We expected, due to the varying task demand, that the subjects require a measurable difference in the amount of effort to solve the paradigms. Additionally, a possible age and/or hearing loss related effect on the neural correlates of listening effort was investigated.The results indicate, that WPSS reflects the listening effort related factors needed to solve an auditory task. A further finding was that the reaction time data and the N1 wave amplitude information hardly yield any correlate of the invested listening effort. In addition, we noticed an age as well as hearing sensitivity related effect on the listening effort.