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Initial Development of a Spatially Separated Speech-in-Noise and Localization Training Program
06 August 2020 (online)
Objective: This article describes the initial development of a novel approach for training hearing-impaired listeners to improve their ability to understand speech in the presence of background noise and to also improve their ability to localize sounds.
Design: Most people with hearing loss, even those well fit with hearing devices, still experience significant problems understanding speech in noise. Prior research suggests that at least some subjects can experience improved speech understanding with training. However, all training systems that we are aware of have one basic, critical limitation. They do not provide spatial separation of the speech and noise, therefore ignoring the potential benefits of training binaural hearing. In this paper we describe our initial experience with a home-based training system that includes spatially separated speech-in-noise and localization training.
Results: Throughout the development of this system patient input, training and preliminary pilot data from individuals with bilateral cochlear implants were utilized. Positive feedback from subjective reports indicated that some individuals were engaged in the treatment, and formal testing showed benefit. Feedback and practical issues resulted from the reduction of an eight-loudspeaker to a two-loudspeaker system.
Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest we have successfully developed a viable spatial hearing training system that can improve binaural hearing in noise and localization. Applications include, but are not limited to, hearing with hearing aids and cochlear implants.