Music Therapy

Masked Sentence Recognition in Children, Young Adults, and Older Adults: Age-Dependent Effects of Semantic Context and Masker Type

Objectives: Masked speech recognition in normal-hearing listeners depends in part on masker type and semantic context of the target. Children and older adults are more susceptible to masking than young adults, particularly when the masker is speech. Semantic context has been shown to facilitate noise-masked sentence recognition in all age groups, but it is not known whether age affects a listener’s ability to use context with a speech masker. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of masker type and semantic context of the target as a function of listener age. Design: Listeners were children (5 to 16 years), young adults (19 to 30 years), and older adults (67 to 81 years), all with normal or near-normal hearing. Maskers were either speech-shaped noise or two-talker speech, and targets were either semantically correct (high context) sentences or semantically anomalous (low context) sentences. Results: As predicted, speech reception thresholds were lower for young adults than either children or older adults. Age effects were larger for the two-talker masker than the speech-shaped noise masker, and the effect of masker type was larger in children than older adults. Performance tended to be better for targets with high than low semantic context,……

Effects of Reverberation on the Relation Between Compression Speed and Working Memory for Speech-in-Noise Perception

Objectives: Previous study has suggested that when listening in modulated noise, individuals benefit from different wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) speeds depending on their working memory ability. Reverberation reduces the modulation depth of signals and may impact the relation between WDRC speed and working memory. The purpose of this study was to examine this relation across a range of reverberant conditions. Design: Twenty-eight older listeners with mild-to-moderate sensorineural hearing impairment were recruited in the present study. Individual working memory was measured using a Reading Span test. Sentences were combined with noise at two signal to noise ratios (2 and 5 dB SNR), and reverberation was simulated at a range of reverberation times (0.00, 0.75, 1.50, and 3.00 sec). Speech intelligibility was measured in listeners when listening to the sentences processed with simulated fast-acting and slow-acting WDRC conditions. Results: There was a significant relation between WDRC speed and working memory with minimal or no reverberation. Consistent with previous research, this relation was such that individuals with high working memory had higher speech intelligibility with fast-acting WDRC, and individuals with low working memory performed better with slow-acting WDRC. However, at longer reverberation times, there was no relation between WDRC speed and working memory. Conclusions:……

Measures of Listening Effort Are Multidimensional

Objectives: Listening effort can be defined as the cognitive resources required to perform a listening task. The literature on listening effort is as confusing as it is voluminous: measures of listening effort rarely correlate with each other and sometimes result in contradictory findings. Here, we directly compared simultaneously recorded multimodal measures of listening effort. After establishing the reliability of the measures, we investigated validity by quantifying correlations between measures and then grouping-related measures through factor analysis. Design: One hundred and sixteen participants with audiometric thresholds ranging from normal to severe hearing loss took part in the study (age range: 55 to 85 years old, 50.3% male). We simultaneously measured pupil size, electroencephalographic alpha power, skin conductance, and self-report listening effort. One self-report measure of fatigue was also included. The signal to noise ratio (SNR) was adjusted at 71% criterion performance using sequences of 3 digits. The main listening task involved correct recall of a random digit from a sequence of six presented at a SNR where performance was around 82 to 93%. Test–retest reliability of the measures was established by retesting 30 participants 7 days after the initial session. Results: With the exception of skin conductance and the self-report measure of……

Effects of Age and Hearing Loss on the Recognition of Emotions in Speech

Objectives: Emotional communication is a cornerstone of social cognition and informs human interaction. Previous studies have shown deficits in facial and vocal emotion recognition in older adults, particularly for negative emotions. However, few studies have examined combined effects of aging and hearing loss on vocal emotion recognition by adults. The objective of this study was to compare vocal emotion recognition in adults with hearing loss relative to age-matched peers with normal hearing. We hypothesized that age would play a role in emotion recognition and that listeners with hearing loss would show deficits across the age range. Design: Thirty-two adults (22 to 74 years of age) with mild to severe, symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss, amplified with bilateral hearing aids and 30 adults (21 to 75 years of age) with normal hearing, participated in the study. Stimuli consisted of sentences spoken by 2 talkers, 1 male, 1 female, in 5 emotions (angry, happy, neutral, sad, and scared) in an adult-directed manner. The task involved a single-interval, five-alternative forced-choice paradigm, in which the participants listened to individual sentences and indicated which of the five emotions was targeted in each sentence. Reaction time was recorded as an indirect measure of cognitive load. Results: Results showed……

Correlates of Hearing Aid Use in UK Adults: Self-Reported Hearing Difficulties, Social Participation, Living Situation, Health, and Demographics

Objectives: Hearing impairment is ranked fifth globally for years lived with disability, yet hearing aid use is low among individuals with a hearing impairment. Identifying correlates of hearing aid use would be helpful in developing interventions to promote use. To date, however, no studies have investigated a wide range of variables, this has limited intervention development. The aim of the present study was to identify correlates of hearing aid use in adults in the United Kingdom with a hearing impairment. To address limitations in previous studies, we used a cross-sectional analysis to model a wide range of potential correlates simultaneously to provide better evidence to aid intervention development. Design: The research was conducted using the UK Biobank Resource. A cross-sectional analysis of hearing aid use was conducted on 18,730 participants aged 40 to 69 years old with poor hearing, based on performance on the Digit Triplet test. Results: Nine percent of adults with poor hearing in the cross-sectional sample reported using a hearing aid. The strongest correlate of hearing aid use was self-reported hearing difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 110.69 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 65.12 to 188.16]). Individuals who were older were more likely to use a hearing aid: for……

Clinical Effectiveness of an At-Home Auditory Training Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of an at-home frequent-word auditory training procedure for use with older adults with impaired hearing wearing their own hearing aids. Design: Prospective, double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial with three parallel branches: an intervention group who received the at-home auditory training; an active control group who listened to audiobooks using a similar platform at home (placebo intervention); and a passive control group who wore hearing aids and returned for outcomes, but received no intervention. Outcome measures were obtained after a 5-week period. A mixed research design was used with a between-subjects factor of group and a repeated-measures factor of time (pre- and post-treatment) to evaluate the effects of the at-home auditory training program. The intervention was completed in participants’ own homes. Baseline and outcomes measures were assessed at a university research laboratory. The participants were adults, aged 54 to 80 years, with the mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Of the 51 identified eligible participants, 45 enrolled as a volunteer sample and 43 of these completed the study. Frequent-word auditory training regimen completed intervention at home over a period of 5 weeks. The active control group listened to audiobooks (placebo intervention) and the passive control group completed no intervention. The primary……

Efficacy and Effectiveness of Advanced Hearing Aid Directional and Noise Reduction Technologies for Older Adults With Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

Objectives: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the laboratory efficacy and real-world effectiveness of advanced directional microphones (DM) and digital noise reduction (NR) algorithms (i.e., premium DM/NR features) relative to basic-level DM/NR features of contemporary hearing aids (HAs). The study also examined the effect of premium HAs relative to basic HAs and the effect of DM/NR features relative to no features. Design: Fifty-four older adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss completed a single-blinded crossover trial. Two HA models, one a less-expensive, basic-level device (basic HA) and the other a more-expensive, advanced-level device (premium HA), were used. The DM/NR features of the basic HAs (i.e., basic features) were adaptive DMs and gain-reduction NR with fewer channels. In contrast, the DM/NR features of the premium HAs (i.e., premium features) included adaptive DMs and gain-reduction NR with more channels, bilateral beamformers, speech-seeking DMs, pinna-simulation directivity, reverberation reduction, impulse NR, wind NR, and spatial NR. The trial consisted of four conditions, which were factorial combinations of HA model (premium versus basic) and DM/NR feature status (on versus off). To blind participants regarding the HA technology, no technology details were disclosed and minimal training on how to use the features was provided. In each……

Factors Associated With Successful Setup of a Self-Fitting Hearing Aid and the Need for Personalized Support

Objectives: Self-fitting hearing aids have the potential to increase the accessibility of hearing health care. The aims of this study were to (1) identify factors that are associated with the ability to successfully set up a pair of commercially available self-fitting hearing aids; 2) identify factors that are associated with the need for knowledgeable, personalized support in performing the self-fitting procedure; and (3) evaluate performance of the individual steps in the self-fitting procedure. Design: Sixty adults with hearing loss between the ages of 51 and 85 took part in the study. Half of the participants were current users of bilateral hearing aids; the other half had no previous hearing aid experience. At the first appointment, participants underwent assessments of health locus of control, hearing aid self-efficacy, cognitive status, problem-solving skills, demographic characteristics, and hearing thresholds. At the second appointment, participants followed a set of computer-based instructions accompanied by video clips to self-fit the hearing aids. The self-fitting procedure required participants to customize the physical fit of the hearing aids, insert the hearing aids into the ear, perform self-directed in situ audiometry, and adjust the resultant settings according to their preference. Participants had access to support with the self-fitting procedure from a……

Noise Exposure May Diminish the Musician Advantage for Perceiving Speech in Noise

Objective: Although numerous studies have shown that musicians have better speech perception in noise (SPIN) compared to nonmusicians, other studies have not replicated the “musician advantage for SPIN.” One factor that has not been adequately addressed in previous studies is how musicians’ SPIN is affected by routine exposure to high levels of sound. We hypothesized that such exposure diminishes the musician advantage for SPIN. Design: Environmental sound levels were measured continuously for 1 week via body-worn noise dosimeters in 56 college students with diverse musical backgrounds and clinically normal pure-tone audiometric averages. SPIN was measured using the Quick Speech in Noise Test (QuickSIN). Multiple linear regression modeling was used to examine how music practice (years of playing a musical instrument) and routine noise exposure predict QuickSIN scores. Results: Noise exposure and music practice were both significant predictors of QuickSIN, but they had opposing influences, with more years of music practice predicting better QuickSIN scores and greater routine noise exposure predicting worse QuickSIN scores. Moreover, mediation analysis suggests that noise exposure suppresses the relationship between music practice and QuickSIN scores. Conclusions: Our findings suggest a beneficial relationship between music practice and SPIN that is suppressed by noise exposure. Original RSS Content… Hearing…

Benefits of Cochlear Implantation for Single-Sided Deafness: Data From the House Clinic-University of Southern California-University of California, Los Angeles Clinical Trial

Objectives: Cochlear implants (CIs) have been shown to benefit patients with single-sided deafness (SSD) in terms of tinnitus reduction, localization, speech understanding, and quality of life (QoL). While previous studies have shown cochlear implantation may benefit SSD patients, it is unclear which point of comparison is most relevant: baseline performance before implantation versus performance with normal-hearing (NH) ear after implantation. In this study, CI outcomes were assessed in SSD patients before and up to 6 mo postactivation. Benefits of cochlear implantation were assessed relative to binaural performance before implantation or relative to performance with the NH ear alone after implantation. Design: Here, we report data for 10 patients who completed a longitudinal, prospective, Food and Drug Administration–approved study of cochlear implantation for SSD patients. All subjects had severe to profound unilateral hearing loss in one ear and normal hearing in the other ear. All patients were implanted with the MED-EL CONCERTO Flex 28 device. Speech understanding in quiet and in noise, localization, and tinnitus severity (with the CI on or off) were measured before implantation (baseline) and at 1, 3, 6 mo postactivation of the CI processor. Performance was measured with both ears (binaural), the CI ear alone, and the NH……