SHS Proseminar Speaker - 4/20/2018

Using psychophysiological measures to assess affective response to communication challenges

francis,alexAlexander L. Francis
Associate Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue University

April 20, 2018
12:00 -  12:50 PM
1092 Lincoln Hall

When people make decisions about listening, such as whether to continue attending to a particular conversation or whether to wear their hearing aids to a particular restaurant, they do so on the basis of more than just their estimated performance. Recent research has highlighted the vital role of more subjective qualities such as effort, motivation, and fatigue. In this talk I will argue that the importance of these factors is largely mediated by the emotional response to the listening challenge. Furthermore, because emotions are intimately related to physiological responses, especially those governed by the autonomic nervous system, I propose that it is vital to understand (and ultimately quantify) affective responses to the demands of communication. I will present some results from a series of studies in my lab investigating the use of peripheral psychophysiological measurements (primarily cardiovascular, electrodermal, and facial muscular activity) in challenging communication contexts. Across multiple studies, younger, middle-aged, and older adults listened to speech that was made more difficult to understand either through distortion (synthetic speech, non-native accent) or noise masking. In some tasks, the stimuli were sentences or strings of words to be repeated. In others, they were short stories and listeners were asked to answer multiple-choice questions about them. In one experiment investigating properties of different aspects of clinical tests of hearing in noise, responses made in noise were contrasted with those made in quiet. Discussion will focus on the importance of understanding how individual differences in psychology and physiology may influence affective response to challenging listening conditions across the lifespan.