Hearing loss, as a result of old age, has been linked to a decline in speech perception despite the use of additional listening devices. Even though the relationship between hearing loss and decreased speech perception has been well established, research in this area has often focused on the behavioral aspects of language and not on the functionality of the brain itself. In the present study, the mismatch negativity, an event related potential, was examined in order to determine the differences in speech perception between young adult participants, geriatric normal hearing participants, and geriatric hearing-impaired participants. It was hypothesized that a significantly weaker mismatch negativity would occur in the geriatric hearing-impaired participants when compared to the young adult participants and the geriatric normal hearing participants. A passive same/different discrimination task was administered to 10 young adult controls (5 male, 5 female) and eight older adult participants with and without hearing loss (4 male, 4 female). Data from behavioral responses and event related potentials were recorded from 64 electrodes placed across the scalp. Results demonstrated that the mismatch negativity occurred at various amplitudes across all participants tested; however, an increased latency in the presence of the mismatch negativity was noted for the geriatric normal hearing and the geriatric hearing-impaired participants. Dipoles reconstructed from temporal event related potential data were located in the cortical areas known to be instrumental in auditory and language processing for the young adult participants; however, within the geriatric normal hearing and the geriatric hearing-impaired participants, dipoles were seen in multiple locations not directly associated with language and auditory processing. Although not conclusive, it appears that within the geriatric normal hearing and the geriatric hearing-impaired participants there is slower processing of the speech information, as well as some cognitive confusion which leads to fewer available resources for interpretation.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





electroencephalography, event related potentials, mismatch negativity, brain mapping, geriatric, dipole localization