Time-specific Components of Pupil Responses Reveal Alternations in Effort Allocation Caused by Memory Task Demands During Speech Identification in Noise

Patrycja Książek*, Adriana A. Zekveld, Lorenz Fiedler, Sophia E. Kramer, Dorothea Wendt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Daily communication may be effortful due to poor acoustic quality. In addition, memory demands can induce effort, especially for long or complex sentences. In the current study, we tested the impact of memory task demands and speech-to-noise ratio on the time-specific components of effort allocation during speech identification in noise. Thirty normally hearing adults (15 females, mean age 42.2 years) participated. In an established auditory memory test, listeners had to listen to a list of seven sentences in noise, and repeat the sentence-final word after presentation, and, if instructed, recall the repeated words. We tested the effects of speech-to-noise ratio (SNR; −4 dB, +1 dB) and recall (Recall; Yes, No), on the time-specific components of pupil responses, trial baseline pupil size, and their dynamics (change) along the list. We found three components in the pupil responses (early, middle, and late). While the additional memory task (recall versus no recall) lowered all components’ values, SNR (−4 dB versus +1 dB SNR) increased the middle and late component values. Increasing memory demands (Recall) progressively increased trial baseline and steepened decrease of the late component's values. Trial baseline increased most steeply in the condition of +1 dB SNR with recall. The findings suggest that adding a recall to the auditory task alters effort allocation for listening. Listeners are dynamically re-allocating effort from listening to memorizing under changing memory and acoustic demands. The pupil baseline and the time-specific components of pupil responses provide a comprehensive picture of the interplay of SNR and recall on effort.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Hearing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

Cite this