Listening effort: Order effects and core executive functions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Listening effort seems to depend on input-related listening demands and several factors internal to the individual listener. Input-related demands may be listening in noise compared with listening in quiet, and internal factors may be cognitive functions. Purpose: The purpose was to apply measures of listening effort and perceived listening effort in participants with normal hearing, to determine if there are any presentation order effects, and to explore the relationship between listening effort measured as accuracy, response times, efficiency of information encoding into long-term memory, perceived listening effort, and core executive functions. Research design: A within-subject design with repeated measures was used and a study of relationships between variables was made. Study sample: Thirty-two healthy adults with normal hearing. Data collection and analysis: Participants were tested individually by a listening task using a dual-task paradigm. The listening task was performed in quiet and in multitalker babble noise at 10 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Perceived listening effort and core executive functions (working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility) were also assessed. Results: The measures of listening effort (correct responses, response times, and immediate and delayed listening comprehension) failed to demonstrate increased listening effort in multitalker babble noise (10 dB SNR) compared with quiet, although a significant test order effect was seen for correct responses indicating that participants who first listened in noise did not improve in quiet. Perceived listening effort increased significantly in noise compared with quiet. No relationship was found between measures of listening effort and ratings of perceived listening effort. Working memory and cognitive flexibility were not related to ratings of perceived listening effort. In contrast, better inhibitory control was related to higher ratings in both quiet and in noise. Conclusions: It is possible that the SNR and measures used were not as sensitive as required to measure listening effort behaviorally. In the present experimental setup, prior noise exposure impedes the beneficial effects of performing a task in quiet. Self-reports seem to provide a valid measure of perceived listening effort that is related to the individual's inhibitory control. The present findings suggest that participants with better inhibitory control are more susceptible to the task demand level both in quiet and in noise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-747
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Health Sciences


  • Adverse listening condition
  • Cognitive demands
  • Response time
  • Subjective ratings
  • Working memory


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