“What is very interesting is that people still try to listen even in more adverse listening situations when they have the hearing aids and the noise reduction on. With inactive noise-reduction, they would get disengaged earlier and more likely miss the conversation in noise,” says Dorothea Wendt.
She also takes note of the fact that the difference between listening with or without noise reduction is significant in the listening situations that are considered ‘ecologically valid conditions’ – the listening situations most likely to mirror reality. These have on average a difference between talker and noise of 5 dB.
Tests on listening effort could be valuable in the clinic
The study deals with a specific hearing aid but according to Dorothea Wendt, measuring listening effort could be used as a way to evaluate the benefit of hearing devices on a more general level as well. It could be an important addition to the more traditional speech recognition tests in audiological practice.
“We still need the traditional measure of speech recognition, but adding tests on listening could give more information on how people understand speech and how they allocate their cognitive resources to perform a task. This is information that you wouldn’t measure otherwise,” says Dorothea Wendt and adds:
“However, the pupillometry method has to be developed further, and more research is needed, before it might be applicable and provide clinical value. So far, the methods are only used to examine changes in listening effort for a group of hearing-impaired listeners and not for individuals.”
Read about another way of measuring listening effort - the SWIR test – here: Worldwide interest in SWIR: An increasingly popular method for measuring listening effort
Introducing the newest listening effort project: HEAR-ECO
This study was part of Barbara Ohlenforst’s PhD thesis, which again was part of the EU funded LISTEN project.
The LISTEN project aimed at developing the pupillometry method for measuring listening effort further in order to better show the benefits of a hearing device
But research usually leads to more questions, so even though LISTEN has now come to an end, the work on listening effort is now continuing in the international HEAR-ECO project.
“In HEAR-ECO we’ll combine pupillometry with other techniques, such as EEG, to measure listening effort. We aim to examine the listening effort with those different techniques beyond the typical lab situation. The long-term goal is to investigate the benefit of hearing devices, for the user in those ecological valid listening scenarios,” says Dorothea Wendt.
Read more news from Eriksholm Research Centre here.