Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2017

First Advisor

Dr. Scott E. Seeman, Ph.D.


There is recent interest in finding psychophysiological measures that are sensitive to listening effort for the young adult population. Listening effort (LE) is defined as the cognitive resources required to attend to and understand speech (Hicks & Tharpe 2002; McGarrigle, et al. 2014; Gosselin & Gagne 2010). This study attempted to further refine HRV as a measure of listening effort to answer questions regarding HRV sensitivity to signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) for listening tasks, uses of temporal and spectral analyses of HRV and their sensitivity to listening induced stress, the effect of the noise type on HRV across SNRs, and effects of breathing on HRV. HRV was measured on 17 young adults while performing a speech-in-noise task at varying SNRs. Results revealed HRV is sensitive to varying SNR conditions during listening tasks when HRV was measured at a 50% fixed performance level compared to HRV measured at rest. HRV was found to be most sensitive to the speech-in-noise tasks when an informational maskers (4-talker babble) was utilized. Both spectral and temporal analysis measures of HRV (SDNN, HF band, and LF band) measures reflecedt changes in power as a result of stress. In conclusion, HRV remains a sensitive objective measure of listening effort despite using a nonverbal listening task.