Over-Representation of Speech in Older Adults Originates from Early Response in Higher Order Auditory Cortex


Previous research has found that, paradoxically, while older adults have more difficulty comprehending speech in challenging circumstances than younger adults, their brain responses track the envelope of the acoustic signal more robustly. Here we investigate this puzzle by using magnetoencephalography (MEG) source localization to determine the anatomical origin of this difference. Our results indicate that this robust tracking in older adults does not arise merely from having the same responses as younger adults but with larger amplitudes; instead, they recruit additional regions, inferior to core auditory cortex, with a short latency of ∼30 ms relative to the acoustic signal.