The Journal of International
Advanced Otology
Original Article

Preserved Gray Matter Volume in the Left Superior Temporal Gyrus Underpins Speech-in-Noise Processing in Middle-Aged Adults


Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences for Convergence Medicine, Hallym University, College of Medicine, Anyang, Republic of Korea


Ear and Interaction Center, Doheun Institute for Digital Innovation in Medicine (D.I.D.I.M.), Hallym University Medical Center, Anyang, South Korea


Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Hallym University, College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Republic of Korea

J Int Adv Otol 2024; 20: 62-68
DOI: 10.5152/iao.2024.231241
Read: 73 Downloads: 45 Published: 01 February 2024

BACKGROUND: Neuroanatomical evidence suggests that behavioral speech-in-noise (SiN) perception and the underlying cortical structural network are altered by aging, and these aging-induced changes could be initiated during middle age. However, the mechanism behind the relationship between auditory performance and neural substrates of speech perception in middle-aged individuals remains unclear. In this study, we measured the structural volumes of selected neuroanatomical regions involved in speech and hearing processing to establish their association with speech perception ability in middle-aged adults.

METHODS: Sentence perception in quiet and noisy conditions was behaviorally measured in 2 different age groups: young (20-39 years old) and middle-aged (40-59-year-old) adults. Anatomical magnetic resonance images were taken to assess the gray matter volume of specific parcellated brain areas associated with speech perception. The relationships between these and behavioral auditory performance with age were determined.

RESULTS: The middle-aged adults showed poorer speech perception in both quiet and noisy conditions than the young adults. Neuroanatomical data revealed that the normalized gray matter volume in the left superior temporal gyrus, which is closely related to acoustic and phonological processing, is associated with behavioral SiN perception in the middle-aged group. In addition, the normalized gray matter volumes in multiple cortical areas seem to decrease with age.

CONCLUSION: The results indicate that SiN perception in middle-aged adults is closely related to the brain region responsible for lower-level speech processing, which involves the detection and phonemic representation of speech. Nonetheless, the higher-order cortex may also contribute to age-induced changes in auditory performance.

Cite this article as: Han J, Kim J, Park G, Lee H. Preserved gray matter volume in the left superior temporal gyrus underpins speech-in-noise processing in middle-aged adults. J Int Adv Otol. 2024;20(1):62-68.

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