The effect of age and hearing loss on partner-directed gaze in a communicative task

Chris Davis, Jeesun Kim, Outi Tuomainen, Valerie Hazan


The study examined the partner-directed gaze patterns of old and young talkers in a task (DiapixUK) that involved two people (a lead talker and a follower) engaging in a spontaneous dialogue. The aim was (1) to determine whether older adults engage less in partner-directed gaze than younger adults by measuring mean gaze frequency and mean total gaze duration; and (2) examine the effect that mild hearing loss may have on older adult’s partner-directed gaze. These were tested in various communication conditions: a no barrier condition; BAB2 condition in which the lead talker and the follower spoke and heard each other in multitalker babble noise; and two barrier conditions in which the lead talker could hear clearly their follower but the follower could not hear the lead talker very clearly (i.e., the lead talker’s voice was degraded by babble (BAB1) or by a Hearing Loss simulation (HLS). 57 single-sex pairs (19 older adults with mild Hearing Loss, 17 older adults with Normal Hearing and 21 younger adults) participated in the study. We found that older adults with normal hearing produced fewer partner-directed gazes (and gazed less overall) than either the older adults with hearing loss or younger adults for the BAB1 and HLS conditions. We propose that this may be due to a decline in older adult’s attention to cues signaling how well a conversation is progressing. Older adults with hearing loss, however, may attend more to visual cues because they give greater weighting to these for understanding speech.


 DOI: 10.21437/AVSP.2017-3

Cite as: Davis, C., Kim, J., Tuomainen, O., Hazan, V. (2017) The effect of age and hearing loss on partner-directed gaze in a communicative task. Proc. The 14th International Conference on Auditory-Visual Speech Processing, 12-15, DOI: 10.21437/AVSP.2017-3.


@inproceedings{Davis2017,
  author={Chris Davis and Jeesun Kim and Outi Tuomainen and Valerie Hazan},
  title={ The effect of age and hearing loss on partner-directed gaze in a communicative task},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. The 14th International Conference on Auditory-Visual Speech Processing},
  pages={12--15},
  doi={10.21437/AVSP.2017-3},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/AVSP.2017-3}
}