The Fifth Eriksholm Workshop has convened to develop a consensus among interdisciplinary experts. The goal of the workshop, titled "Hearing Impairment and Cognitive Energy", was to determine what we already know on the topic, what we still do not know, and what we need to focus on in our research. The workshop was motivated by the need for evidence and consensus in relation to the growing literature around listening effort, where there are many different ways of understanding listening effort, which is confusing. The purpose of the workshop was to sort out those confusions and misconceptions.
The workshop focused on three main areas: (1) theories, models, concepts, definitions and frameworks; (2) methods and measures; and (3) knowledge translation. For the first half of the workshop, researchers and experts presented research. The second half they used to develop a consensus. After the workshop, manuscripts were prepared, and these were subsequently peer reviewed by at least three participants.
The 16 workshop participants included experts from different relevant disciplines, including audiology, engineering, neuroscience, speech perception, gerontology, philosophy, and many subfields of psychology: cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, motivational psychology, social psychology, and health psychology. The organizers - Kathy Picora-Fuller from Toronto, and Sophia Kramer from Amsterdam - also decided to include four experts working in industry (Edwards, Lemke, Lunner, and Naylor) because of their relevant scientific research contributions.
The workshop proposed a heuristically useful Framework for Understanding Effortful Listening (FUEL); it "incorporates the well-known relationship between cognitive demand and the supply of cognitive capacity that is the foundation of cognitive theories of attention." The consensus paper puts up a framework where listening effort can be understood in the context of the hearing impaired listener and technology, and it will inspire/force future research within listening effort to be streamlined along the lines put up in the consensus. The most important outcome from the workshop was the consensus that listening effort should be considered as a voluntary process; you choose to put in effort if you find it important/motivating enough, otherwise you do not. In scientific terms, listening effort is now defined as the deliberate allocation of mental resources to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal, when carrying out a task.
The 23-page consensus paper highlights how listening effort depends not only on hearing difficulties and task demands but also on the listener's motivation to expend mental effort in the challenging situations of everyday life.
You can read the publication and full special issue in Ear and Hearing, here: http://journals.lww.com/ear-hearing/toc/2016/07001
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