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Mandarin Chinese speech sounds (vowels × tones) were presented to younger and older Chinese-native speakers with normal hearing. For the identification of vowel-plus-tone, vowel-only, and tone-only, younger listeners significantly outperformed older listeners. The tone 3 identification scores correlated significantly with the age of older listeners. Moreover, for older listeners, the identification rate of vowel-plus-tone was significantly lower than that of vowel-only and tone-only, whereas for younger listeners, there was no difference among the three identification scores. Therefore, aging negatively affected Mandarin vowel and tone perception, especially when listeners needed to process both phonemic and tonal information.


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