Objective: Baseline electroencephalography [EEG] alpha power, i.e. that measured prior to stimulus presentation, is a potential objective predictor of task performance. Here we assessed the predictive power of EEG alpha on performance accuracy in a digits-in-noise recognition task, factoring in hearing thresholds and age.
Design: EEG alpha power, recorded while participants listened to target digits presented in a noise background, was analysed during two different baseline periods: i) a pre-stimulus baseline (pre-STIM) free from any acoustic stimulus, and ii) a pre-target baseline (pre-TARG) recorded in background noise only.
Study sample: 85 participants with either normal hearing or aided hearing impairment (age range: 55-85 years old, 42 male).
Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that i) lower hearing thresholds and, to a lesser extent, higher pre-STIM alpha power were associated with improved performance accuracy ii) alpha power in pre-STIM and pre-TARG were highly correlated across individuals but pre-TARG alpha power was not a significant predictor of performance accuracy.
Conclusion: Investigations of baseline EEG alpha power as a predictor of speech-in-noise performance accuracy should control for associations between hearing thresholds and measures of EEG baseline periods.