Quantifying the Range of Signal Modification in Clinically Fit Hearing Aids

Varsha Rallapalli*, Melinda Anderson, James Kates, Lauren Balmert, Lynn Sirow, Kathryn Arehart, Pamela Souza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Hearing aids provide various signal processing techniques with a range of parameters to improve the listening experience for a hearing-impaired individual. In previous studies, we reported significant differences in signal modification for mild versus strong signal processing in commercially available hearing aids. In this study, the authors extend this work to clinically prescribed hearing aid fittings based on best-practice guidelines. The goals of this project are to determine the range of cumulative signal modification in clinically fit hearing aids across manufacturers and technology levels and the effects of listening conditions including signal to noise ratio (SNR) and presentation level on these signal modifications. Design: We identified a subset of hearing aids that were representative of a typical clinical setting. Deidentified hearing aid fitting data were obtained from three audiology clinics for adult hearing aid users with sensorineural hearing loss for a range of hearing sensitivities. Matching laboratory hearing aids were programmed with the deidentified fitting data. Output from these hearing aids was recorded at four SNRs and three presentation levels. The resulting signal modification was quantified using the cepstral correlation component of the Hearing Aid Speech Quality Index which measures the speech envelope changes in the context of a model of the listener's hearing loss. These metric values represent the hearing aid processed signal as it is heard by the hearing aid user. Audiometric information was used to determine the nature of any possible association with the distribution of signal modification in these clinically fit hearing aids. Results: In general, signal modification increased as SNR decreased and presentation level increased. Differences across manufacturers were significant such that the effect of presentation level varied differently at each SNR, for each manufacturer. This result suggests that there may be variations across manufacturers in processing various listening conditions. There was no significant effect of technology level. There was a small effect of pure-tone average on signal modification for one manufacturer, but no effect of audiogram slope. Finally, there was a broad range of measured signal modification for a given hearing loss, for the same manufacturer and listening condition. Conclusions: The signal modification values in this study are representative of commonly fit hearing aids in clinics today. The results of this study provide insights into how the range of signal modifications obtained in real clinical fittings compares with a previous study. Future studies will focus on the behavioral implications of signal modifications in clinically fit hearing aids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-441
Number of pages9
JournalEar and hearing
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Clinical
  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing loss
  • Signal modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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