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. 2008 Dec;12(4):300-15.
doi: 10.1177/1084713808325880.

Evaluating the Benefit of Hearing Aids in Solving the Cocktail Party Problem

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Free PMC article

Evaluating the Benefit of Hearing Aids in Solving the Cocktail Party Problem

Nicole Marrone et al. Trends Amplif. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

The benefit of wearing hearing aids in multitalker, reverberant listening environments was evaluated in a study of speech-on-speech masking with two groups of listeners with hearing loss (younger/older). Listeners selectively attended a known spatial location in two room conditions (low/high reverberation) and identified target speech in the presence of two competing talkers that were either co-located or symmetrically spatially separated from the target. The amount of spatial release from masking (SRM) with bilateral aids was similar to that when listening unaided at or near an equivalent sensation level and was negatively correlated with the amount of hearing loss. When using a single aid, SRM was reduced and was related to the level of the stimulus in the unaided ear. Increased reverberation also reduced SRM in all listening conditions. Results suggest a complex interaction between hearing loss, hearing aid use, reverberation, and performance in auditory selective attention tasks.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
A comparison of bilateral aided SRM and unaided SRM from Marrone et al., (in press). Results were obtained at a comparable sensation level on an individual listener basis. The dashed line along the diagonal illustrates equivalent SRM in the two conditions. The solid line represents the best fit for the data.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
The relationship between the amount of SRM in the bilateral aided condition and the amount of release in the unilateral aided conditions. The dashed line along the diagonal represents performance that is equivalent in the two conditions. The solid line represents the best fit for the data.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
The amount of SRM in the unilateral aided condition as a function of the sensation level of the stimuli in the unaided ear. The square symbol represents the mean performance for the NH listeners when using an earplug and earmuff to occlude one ear and the error bars represent ±1 standard error of the mean. The dashed line represents the best-fit line to the data and the dotted line is a reference line to illustrate 0 dB SRM.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
A summary of the amount of SRM in the aided listening conditions for the two levels of room reverberation (BARE and PLEX). The NH binaural and HL binaural unaided data are replotted from Marrone et al. (2008b) for comparison. Error bars represent ± 1 standard error of the mean.

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