Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Advisor(s)

Ayasakanta Rout

Abstract

Individuals with hearing loss undergo exertion with the change in the auditory environment they are exposed to throughout the day. This fatigue causes individuals with hearing loss to expend more effort in order to achieve the level of speech understanding that a normal hearing individual would under the same environmental circumstances (Gosselin and Gagné, 2011). Because of this, hearing aid users experience listening fatigue by the end of the day, especially in the presence of background noise (Rabbitt, 1991). This listening fatigue affects school aged kids and their ability to perform and succeed on grade level in the classroom. Older adults are also heavily affected as their speech understanding naturally reduces with age.

Increasing audibility for individuals with hearing loss is addressed through digital hearing aids, which aid in reducing individual’s auditory and cognitive strain. The digital noise reduction (DNR) feature adds gain to signals identified as sounds and reduces signals identified as noise, allowing the affected individual to more easily distinguish speech in the presence of background noise, ultimately reducing the effect of listening fatigue experienced by the individual. Research suggests that DNR may be capable of reducing the effects of listening fatigue through evidence that shows a faster response time in individuals with DNR than in individuals without this feature (Sarampalis et al, 2009). In response to this, subjective questionnaires have been rated showing the same amount of listening fatigue despite being an aided or unaided listener. Thus the goal of this study and future studies is to understand DNR and its level of success in reduced listening efforts and fatigue.

The purpose of this study is to measure response time in normal hearing individuals in order to determine if listening fatigue is reflected as a change in response time.

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