P05Session 1 (Thursday 12 January 2023, 15:30-17:30)Effect of noise attenuation on reaction time and listening effort during a dual task
Performing two or more tasks simultaneously is a commonly occurring situation in everyday life. Despite being a common situation, multitasking is often challenging, and one may need to prioritize one task over the other(s) to maintain a certain level of performance on the main task. This study evaluates the potential benefits of noise attenuation in audio devices for normal-hearing participants during multitasking. Specifically, the aim of the study is to evaluate the benefits of passive damping on reaction time, accuracy, and listening effort during a dual task, consisting of a primary auditory task and a secondary visual task.
Adult normal-hearing participants were enrolled in this study. The primary task consisted of a speech understanding test, where HINT sentences were presented over headphones in a 4-talker babble noise (70 dB SPL). The participants’ task was to repeat each sentence as accurately as possible. The secondary visual task started at sentence onset with a digit being displayed on a screen. The participants were instructed to press a key on a keyboard as fast as possible, depending on whether the number was even or odd. Word recognition, reaction time, and accuracy were recorded. Five conditions were presented, leading to different manipulations of task difficulty: baseline (visual only task), and four dual-task conditions, consisting of two signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs of -6 and -10 dB), and two noise types (noise pre-processed with passive damping or unprocessed). Pupil dilation was recorded during the dual task as a physiological indicator of listening effort. Moreover, participants’ subjective assessment of effort was evaluated via a 3-items questionnaire for each condition.
Preliminary behavioral results show that reaction time during the dual task increased relative to baseline (visual only task), reflecting a dual-task cost when performing both tasks simultaneously. Passive damping decreased reaction time while not compromising accuracy. The final results will be presented at the conference.
The findings of this study suggest that performing two challenging tasks simultaneously increases reaction time relative to a single task performed in isolation. Passive damping can help decrease this dual-task cost by reducing the cognitive resources needed to perform the auditory task.