PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMultitasking in background noise may involve greater cognitive processing demands than multitasking in quiet due to an increase in listening effort (Rabbitt, 1968; Pichora-Fuller and Schneider, 2000). This study investigated the effect of background noise in the listening environment on the ability to perceive speech while performing a secondary task. A dual-task paradigm was chosen based on theories of attentional limitations (Broadbent, 1958; Kahneman, 1973; Pashler & Johnston, 1998). Forty-five native English speakers between 19-25 years of age with pure-tone thresholds within normal limits participated in the experiment. Word recognition and visual serial recall were selected as the dual-tasks because both require processing capacity in the phonological loop of working memory (Baddeley, 2003). The number of digits to be recalled was varied in order to increase cognitive demands and test the hypothesis that background noise would degrade multitasking abilities more in more difficult tasks. Results show a gradual decline in the ability to recall the digits with a decline in SNR value of the words in noise. This effect is increased when the number of digits to be recalled increases. Therefore, these results suggest that background noise can have negative effects on the ability to multitask, especially when task demands are increased.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences