Evaluation of speech intelligibility and sound localization abilities with hearing aids using binaural wireless technology

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Iman Ibrahim *
Vijay Parsa
Ewan Macpherson
Margaret Cheesman
(*) Corresponding Author:
Iman Ibrahim | iibrahi7@uwo.ca

Abstract

Wireless synchronization of the digital signal processing (DSP) features between two hearing aids in a bilateral hearing aid fitting is a fairly new technology. This technology is expected to preserve the differences in time and intensity between the two ears by co-ordinating the bilateral DSP features such as multichannel compression, noise reduction, and adaptive directionality. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the benefits of wireless communication as implemented in two commercially available hearing aids. More specifically, this study measured speech intelligibility and sound localization abilities of normal hearing and hearing impaired listeners using bilateral hearing aids with wireless synchronization of multichannel Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC). Twenty subjects participated; 8 had normal hearing and 12 had bilaterally symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss. Each individual completed the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) and a sound localization test with two types of stimuli. No specific benefit from wireless WDRC synchronization was observed for the HINT; however, hearing impaired listeners had better localization with the wireless synchronization. Binaural wireless technology in hearing aids may improve localization abilities although the possible effect appears to be small at the initial fitting. With adaptation, the hearing aids with synchronized signal processing may lead to an improvement in localization and speech intelligibility. Further research is required to demonstrate the effect of adaptation to the hearing aids with synchronized signal processing on different aspects of auditory performance.

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