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Research Summary

Bardsley, B, Culling, J (2014 - 2016) Why do hearing impaired individuals obtain reduced benefit to intelligibility when speech and noise are spatially seperated? British Society of Audiology. £1,710.

Normally, speech understanding in noise is much better when speech and noise sources are separated in space. However, the hearing-impaired population have reduced and widely varying levels of this benefit when compared to the normal-hearing population. The reason for the lack of benefit is unclear. Provision of hearing aids does not restore the level of benefit to that of normal hearing individuals. This study will investigate the reasons why hearing-impaired individuals have reduced benefit from spatial separation and why hearing aids do not completely restore it. The ultimate goal is to improve speech intelligibility for hearing impaired individuals who use hearing aids. Speech intelligibility will be measured when the speech signal and noise signal are separated in space (i.e. left and right) compared to when they are in the same place. The benefit of spatial separation will be compared to the results on other diagnostic tests. Measurements will be made using loudspeakers or headphones in a sound-treated room. Projections can be made from performance in these task to performance in the real world. The results have long term implications for hearing aid design. The study will recruit hearing impaired individuals from University Hospital of Wales Cardiff (UHW) via the Audiology department.