PUPILS: Evaluation of pupillometry as a diagnostic tool for hearing-aid fitting
The PUPILS project is taking pupillometry from group level to the individual level. The project aims to find out whether the method can be a diagnostic tool for hearing-aid fitting in the future.
The measurement of the pupil dilation, i.e. pupillometry, can be interpreted as a reliable index of listening effort. Within recent years, pupil dilations have been studied extensively as an indicator of the person’s listening effort mobilized for speech perception in a noisy environment. It has been demonstrated that listening effort is affected by speech intelligibility, masker type, hearing impairment, and hearing-aid signal processing. For instance, it was shown that noise-reduction schemes of hearing aids can reduce the listening effort that is spent in ecological valid listening situations. So far, the pupillometry method has mainly been evaluated on a group level, no attempts have been made to evaluate the individual listener’s effort.
The PUPILS project aims to examine whether the pupillometry method can be a suitable diagnostic tool for hearing-aid fitting and for testing the benefit of a hearing aid on an individual listener basis.
The transition from a group level towards an individual level of listening effort is not straightforward and provides some challenges since the underlying components affecting the pupillary response are not fully understood yet. To assess the individual pupillary response as an outcome measure of listening effort, the test–retest reliability of the pupillary method will be explored within this project. Different work packages are designed to develop the experimental paradigm and to examine the specificity and sensitivity of the method.
Furthermore, the focus will be on advanced analysis methods, the modeling of the pupillary response and the classification of individual pupil traces. The goal is to identify models that are ultimately feasible for an analysis on an individual basis using a few or even single pupil traces.
The project is performed at DTU, more specifically in close cooperation with Professor Torsten Dau (Hearing Systems) and Per Bækgaard (DTU Compute).
To project is supported by the Oticon Foundation and expected to be completed in 2022.