Thomas Lunner

Research Area Manager / Adj. Professor

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Cognitive Hearing Science

The Cognitive Hearing Science team is working towards creating hearing aids that understand the intention of the listener. The team also aims at inventing new ways to measure how the brain is affected by hearing difficulties.

When people with hearing impairment see a hearing care professional for the first time, they report that they want hearing aids that amplify the sounds they are interested in while leaving other background noises unamplified. That is what the Cognitive Hearing Science group wants to achieve.

We want to invent new ways and tools to intuitively control the hearing aids and to better understand how the brain processes sound of people with hearing impairment.

The Cognitive Hearing Science group is looking into the following research topics:

The listener’s intention: What is the listener actually trying to focus on? This is important since current hearing aids do not know about the listeners’ intention. Our goal is to teach the hearing aids about where the listener currently has the attention.

New cognitive outcome measures: We work on new outcome measures to indicate how the brain is affected by being hard of hearing, and how ecological listening scenarios affect the brain differently when you have a hearing loss. We are testing in natural listening scenarios where several conversations are going on and listeners with hearing loss are challenged to follow and listen. Those scenarios are important for communication in everyday life.


To achieve those goals, we work with different sensors that pick up the signals especially from the eyes and the brain.

By looking into people’s eyes, we can learn about cognitive processes or attention. For example, pupils become larger the more effort a person invests in listening. We refer to this as listening effort.
Furthermore, eye-fixations and movement, i.e. where the eyes point, reveal the focus of your attention when communicating. Thus, eye-tracking is of high relevance to us.

The listener’s attention can also be measured by picking up brain signals using Electroencephalography (EEG). By measuring those signals, the person you are attending to in a conversation can be identified. That sounds like magic, but it is possible.
Both the listener’s attention and the eye-movements can also be picked up by EEG electrodes in the ear canal; so-called EarEEG.

If you wish to learn more about Cognitive Hearing Science, please watch the video below.

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