An ongoing goal of our work has been to understand the effects of wide dynamic range compression (WDRC) amplification on temporal cues for speech recognition. WDRC is the default configuration in all digital aids, so the extent to which WDRC improves speech recognition dictates hearing aid benefit and use. However, WDRC can degrade the modulation properties of the signal, particularly the low-modulation rate (envelope) cues which are important for speech recognition. This project encompasses three sets of experiments that take a systematic approach to prescribing amplification parameters. The first specific aim is to define the extent to which envelope cues can be altered without degrading speech recognition. We will quantify how much envelope cues can be altered, particularly under conditions of spectral degradation similar to those experienced by listeners with hearing loss. We are most concerned with listeners with severe hearing loss who depend more on envelope cues, and who have received little attention in the literature. The second specific aim is to determine whether the acceptable level of envelope distortion depends on factors associated with degree of hearing impairment. The working hypothesis is that listeners who have reduced access to spectral cues, and therefore must rely more on envelope information, will have lower recognition scores due to the envelope alteration caused by WDRC. We will use several measures of ability to detect and use spectral differences necessary for speech recognition, which will be related to the speech-recognition changes due to envelope distortion. The third specific aim is to determine whether the acceptable amount of envelope distortion depends on the listening environment. We will consider the effect of two factors on the acceptable level of envelope distortion: effect of background noise and length of speech utterance. Ultimately, the goal of this work is to determine the range of compression values that maximize the restoration of audibility without distorting usable modulation cues.

Public Health Relevance

Hearing loss is one of our most pervasive health problems but the only treatment option for most of those with hearing loss is a hearing aid. To improve hearing aid satisfaction and benefit and avoid distorting important speech cues, we need to choose appropriate processing parameters for each individual. The focus of this project is to determine hearing aid settings that will provide the best possible speech recognition for each individual under a variety of listening conditions.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01DC006014-09
Application #
8303019
Study Section
Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
Program Officer
Donahue, Amy
Project Start
2003-05-01
Project End
2015-07-31
Budget Start
2012-08-01
Budget End
2013-07-31
Support Year
9
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$224,498
Indirect Cost
$59,938
Name
Northwestern University at Chicago
Department
Other Health Professions
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
160079455
City
Evanston
State
IL
Country
United States
Zip Code
60201
Reinhart, Paul N; Souza, Pamela E; Srinivasan, Nirmal K et al. (2016) Effects of Reverberation and Compression on Consonant Identification in Individuals with Hearing Impairment. Ear Hear 37:144-52
Shen, Jing; Wright, Richard; Souza, Pamela E (2016) On Older Listeners' Ability to Perceive Dynamic Pitch. J Speech Lang Hear Res 59:572-82
Ohlenforst, Barbara; Souza, Pamela E; MacDonald, Ewen N (2016) Exploring the Relationship Between Working Memory, Compressor Speed, and Background Noise Characteristics. Ear Hear 37:137-43
McCloy, Daniel R; Wright, Richard A; Souza, Pamela E (2015) Talker Versus Dialect Effects on Speech Intelligibility: A Symmetrical Study. Lang Speech 58:371-86
Hoover, Eric; Pasquesi, Lauren; Souza, Pamela (2015) Comparison of Clinical and Traditional Gap Detection Tests. J Am Acad Audiol 26:540-6
Davies-Venn, Evelyn; Nelson, Peggy; Souza, Pamela (2015) Comparing auditory filter bandwidths, spectral ripple modulation detection, spectral ripple discrimination, and speech recognition: Normal and impaired hearing. J Acoust Soc Am 138:492-503
Souza, Pamela E; Wright, Richard A; Blackburn, Michael C et al. (2015) Individual sensitivity to spectral and temporal cues in listeners with hearing impairment. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:520-34
Charaziak, Karolina K; Souza, Pamela E; Siegel, Jonathan H (2015) Exploration of stimulus-frequency otoacoustic emission suppression tuning in hearing-impaired listeners. Int J Audiol 54:96-105
Davies-Venn, Evelyn; Souza, Pamela (2014) The role of spectral resolution, working memory, and audibility in explaining variance in susceptibility to temporal envelope distortion. J Am Acad Audiol 25:592-604
Souza, Pamela; Gehani, Namita; Wright, Richard et al. (2013) The advantage of knowing the talker. J Am Acad Audiol 24:689-700

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