Relationship between distortion and working memory for digital noise-reduction processing in hearing aids

Kathryn Arehart*, Pamela Souza, Thomas Lunner, Michael Syskind Pedersen, James Kates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Several recent studies have shown a relationship between working memory and the ability of older adults to benefit from specific advanced signal processing algorithms in hearing aids. In this study, we quantify tradeoffs between benefit due to noise reduction and the perceptual costs associated with distortion caused by the noise reduction algorithm. We also investigate the relationship between these tradeoffs and working memory abilities. Speech intelligibility, speech quality and perceived listening effort were measured in a cohort of elderly adults with hearing loss. Test materials were low-context sentences presented in fluctuating noise conditions at several signal-to-noise ratios. Speech stimuli were processed with a binary mask noise-reduction strategy. The amount of distortion produced by the noise reduction algorithm was parametrically varied by manipulating two binary mask parameters, error rate and attenuation rate. Working memory was assessed with a reading span test. Results will be discussed in terms of the extent to which intelligibility, quality and effort ratings are explained by the amount of distortion and/or noise and by working memory ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number050084
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
StatePublished - 2013
Event21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: Jun 2 2013Jun 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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