Cognitive control of speech perception across the lifespan: A large-scale cross-sectional dichotic-listening study

The ability to use cognitive-control functions to regulate speech perception is thought to be crucial in mastering developmental challenges, such as language acquisition during childhood or compensation for sensory decline in older age, enabling interpersonal communication and meaningful social interactions throughout the entire life span.


Although previous studies indicate that cognitive control of speech perception is subject to developmental changes, its exact developmental trajectory has not been described. Thus, examining a sample of 2,988 participants (1,119 women) with an age range from 5 to 89 years, the aim of the present cross-sectional study was to examine the development of cognitive control of speech perception across the life span using age as continuous predictor. Based on data collected with the forced-attention consonant-vowel dichotic listening paradigm, the data analysis revealed an inverted U-shaped association of age and performance level: A steep increase in performance level was seen throughout childhood and adolescence, reaching highest performance in the early 20s, and was followed by a monotonous, continuous decline into late adulthood. Thus, cognitive control of speech perceptions shows similar life span developmental trajectories as observed regarding cognitive-control functions in other domains, for example, as assessed in the visual domain.

Developmental Psychology, 2015,

Published May 25, 2015 7:00 AM