Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Larry Jacoby


A large body of work supports the conclusion that older adults derive more benefit than young adults from the addition of contextual information in speech perception: Hutchinson, 1989; Pichora-Fuller, Schneider, & Daneman, 1995; Pichora-Fuller, 2008). More recent work by Rogers, Jacoby, and Sommers: in prep) showed that when contextual information and sensory information favored competing responses, older adults were more likely to falsely "hear" the word favored by context. The current research describes two experiments that attempt to mitigate this age-related increase on contextual reliance. Experiment 1 assessed whether the effects of context in Rogers, Jacoby, & Sommers: in prep) were a result of repetition or semantic priming. The results of that experiment revealed that repetition of semantically-associated pairs did not increase false hearing, which supported the notion that context effects were a result of semantic priming. Experiment 2 described two variability-based training procedures aimed at reducing false hearing in older adults. The results showed that while variability-based training did not reduce false hearing to a greater extent than a practice-without-variability control group, age groups differed in their sensitivity to variability. Implications for further training, as well as practical implications for hearing aid users are discussed.


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