By Kayla Karpowicz, Communication Sciences and Disorders; Erin Lynch, Ohio University
Advisor: Jeffrey DiGiovanni
Abstract: During complex listening, executive functions such as working memory (WM) and attentional control (AC) are employed to separate target sounds from non-targets, or distractors. WM mechanisms are primarily responsible for holding targets, or features of targets, while inhibiting potential distractors. AC assists this process by maintaining and shifting focus between features of targets and away from distractors (Cowan, 2004; Dhamani, Leung, Carlile & Sharma, 2013; Hill & Miller, 2009). Should WM and AC not mediate distractors sufficiently, they become intrusive on task performance. When exploring the relationship between these executive functions, research has shown a correlation between working memory capacity (WMC) and AC abilities. Specifically, individuals with higher WMCs have more effective AC than individuals with lower WMCs when completing complex listening tasks (Guijo, Horiuti, Nardez & Cardoso, 2018; Luo, Zhang & Wang, 2017; S?rqvist, 2009). The current project examines whether this predictive capability is influenced by the method of WMC analysis. Normal hearing individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 had their WMCs measured via the Woodcock Johnson III Auditory Working Memory task. In addition, they participated in two subsequent listening tasks with reaction time and response accuracy as outcome measures. The participants' WMC scores (3-21) were analyzed on a continuum and using a low/high split. We expect the continuum to be more predictive of listening performance, as it is more specific to the WMCs close to the median split. The results of this study will inform future research describing relationships between WM, AC and complex listening.