This study examined the effects of computer tasks on speech acoustic measures and the effects of speaking on computer task performance in 30 younger and 30 older adults. Participants completed a speech only task, two computer tasks, and simultaneous speaking and computer tasks. Stimulus sentences included the four corner vowels and two diphthongs embedded between voiceless consonants. Acoustic measures of speech included diphthong transition extent and rate as well as vowel space area (VSA) and vowel articulation index (VAI). A text formatting task included two levels of difficulty. A data entry task included sorting items from a shopping list into categories. Statistical analysis revealed that the dual-task conditions led to a significant decrease in diphthong formant transition extent and rate. Speaking while completing the computer tasks led to an increase in diphthong duration. There was also a significant decrease for VSA and VAI for each dual-task condition compared to speaking alone. Diphthong transition extent, diphthong duration, and VAI were higher in the older adult group. Performance on all computer tasks significantly decreased when simultaneously producing speech. Overall, the findings reveal significant bidirectional interference between concurrent speech and computer tasks. The results also suggest older adults have poorer performance in divided attention computer tasks. The older adult participants were found to speak with longer vowel durations and more expansive articulation than the younger adults. The findings from this study may pave the way for future clinical work that may result in assessment and treatment approaches involving divided attention scenarios.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





divided attention, acoustics, computer task, age, articulation, speech



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Education Commons