thomas_round
Thomas Lunner

Research Area Manager / Adj. Professor

> Learn more

mail@eriksholm.com

Assessment of listening effort provides new ways of evaluating hearing-aid signal processing. Listening effort ratings may be an indicator of cognitive load. Subjective ratings of the effort involved in speech recognition in noise reflect signal-to-noise-ratios, and individual cognitive capacity seems to influence relative rating of noise type.
Listening effort

Testing listening effort and working memory

Recently there has been interest in using subjective ratings as a measure of perceived effort during speech recognition in noise. Perceived effort may be an indicator of cognitive load. Thus, subjective effort ratings during speech recognition in noise may co-vary both with signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and individual cognitive capacity.

The present study investigated the relation between subjective ratings of the effort involved in listening to speech in noise, speech recognition performance, and individual working memory (WM) capacity in hearing-impaired, hearing-aid users. In two experiments, 46 participants – all with bilateral mild to moderate sloping hearing loss - rated perceived effort during aided speech perception in noise. Noise type (unmodulated or modulated speech weighted noise) and SNR (five levels) were manipulated in both experiments.

In the second experiment, hearing-aid compression release settings were also manipulated (slow and fast). Speech recognition performance was measured along with WM capacity. A visual analogue scale (VAS) was used for effort rating in both experiments. Read more about the listening effort test.

Results

In both experiments, there was a strong and significant relation between rated effort and SNR that was independent of individual WM capacity, whereas the relation between rated effort and noise type seemed to be influenced by individual WM capacity.

In particular, greater working memory capacity was associated with less listening effort in steady-state noise across all five SNRs, while in modulated noise this relation only applied at the best SNRs. Experiment 2 revealed that the hearing-aid compression setting influenced the effort ratings. Thus, subjective ratings of the effort involved in speech recognition in noise reflect SNRs, and individual cognitive capacity seems to influence relative rating of noise type.


Further reading

Schulte et al. (2009). Listening Effort Scaling and Preference Rating for Hearing Aid Evaluation. Workshop Hearing Screening and Technology, HearCom.

Larsby B, Hällgren M, Lyxell B (2008). The interference of different background noises on speech processing in elderly hearing-impaired subjects. International journal of audiology,47(2), Supplement, S83-90.

Rudner M, Rönnberg J, Lunner T (2011). Working memory supports listening in noise for persons with hearing impairment. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 22(3), p. 156-167.