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Bjørn Petersen

Age differences in central auditory system responses to naturalistic music

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Aging influences the central auditory system leading to difficulties in the decoding and understanding of overlapping sound signals, such as speech in noise or polyphonic music. Studies on central auditory system evoked responses (ERs) have found in older compared to young listeners increased amplitudes (less inhibition) of the P1 and N1 and decreased amplitudes of the P2, mismatch negativity (MMN), and P3a responses. While preceding research has focused on simplified auditory stimuli, we here tested whether the previously observed age-related differences could be replicated with sounds embedded in medium and highly naturalistic musical contexts. Older (age 55–77 years) and younger adults (age 21–31 years) listened to medium naturalistic (synthesized melody) and highly naturalistic (studio recording of a music piece) stimuli. For the medium naturalistic music, the age group differences on the P1, N1, P2, MMN, and P3a amplitudes were all replicated. The age group differences, however, appeared reduced with the highly compared to the medium naturalistic music. The finding of lower P2 amplitude in older than young was replicated for slow event rates (0.3–2.9 Hz) in the highly naturalistic music. Moreover, the ER latencies suggested a gradual slowing of the auditory processing time course for highly compared to medium naturalistic stimuli irrespective of age. These results support that age-related differences on ERs can partly be observed with naturalistic stimuli. This opens new avenues for including naturalistic stimuli in the investigation of age-related central auditory system disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108566
JournalBiological Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Age, Audiology, Ecological validity, EEG, Evoked responses (ER), Music

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