The spacing effect in human memory research refers to situations in which people learn items better when they study items in spaced intervals rather than massed intervals. This investigation was conducted to compare the efficacy of meaning-oriented auditory training when administered with a spaced versus massed practice schedule.


Forty-seven adult hearing aid users received 16 hr of auditory training. Participants in a spaced group (mean age = 64.6 years, SD = 14.7) trained twice per week, and participants in a massed group (mean age = 69.6 years, SD = 17.5) trained for 5 consecutive days each week. Participants completed speech perception tests before training, immediately following training, and then 3 months later. In line with transfer appropriate processing theory, tests assessed both trained tasks and an untrained task.


Auditory training improved the speech recognition performance of participants in both groups. Benefits were maintained for 3 months. No effect of practice schedule was found on overall benefits achieved, on retention of benefits, nor on generalizability of benefits to nontrained tasks.


The lack of spacing effect in otherwise effective auditory training suggests that perceptual learning may be subject to different influences than are other types of learning, such as vocabulary learning. Hence, clinicians might have latitude in recommending training schedules to accommodate patients' schedules.


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