Distinct contributions of working memory and attentional control to sentence comprehension in noise in persons with stroke

Megan C. Fitzhugh, Arianna N. Lacroix, Corianne Rogalsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sentence comprehension deficits are common following a left hemisphere stroke and have primarily been investigated under optimal listening conditions. However, ample work in neurotypical controls indicates that background noise affects sentence comprehension and the cognitive resources it engages. The purpose of this study was to examine how background noise affects sentence comprehension poststroke using both energetic and informational maskers. We further sought to identify whether sentence comprehension in noise abilities are related to poststroke cognitive abilities, specifically working memory and/or attentional control. Method: Twenty persons with chronic left hemisphere stroke completed a sentence–picture matching task where they listened to sentences presented in three types of maskers: multispeakers, broadband noise, and silence (control condition). Working memory, attentional control, and hearing thresholds were also assessed. Results: A repeated-measures analysis of variance identified participants to have the greatest difficulty with the multispeakers condition, followed by broadband noise and then silence. Regression analyses, after controlling for age and hearing ability, identified working memory as a significant predictor of listening engagement (i.e., mean reaction time) in broadband noise and multispeakers and attentional control as a significant predictor of informational masking effects (computed as a reaction time difference score where broadband noise is subtracted from multispeakers). Conclusions: The results from this study indicate that background noise impacts sentence comprehension abilities poststroke and that these difficulties may arise due to deficits in the cognitive resources supporting sentence comprehension and not other factors such as age or hearing. These findings also highlight a relationship between working memory abilities and sentence comprehension in background noise. We further suggest that attentional control abilities contribute to sentence comprehension by supporting the additional demands associated with informational masking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3230-3241
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct contributions of working memory and attentional control to sentence comprehension in noise in persons with stroke'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this