Horizontal localization and hearing in noise ability in adults with sensorineural hearing loss using hearing aids with binaural processing
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The purpose of the study was to determine whether hearing aids with binaural processing improve performance during a localization and a hearing in noise task. The study included 16 participants, ages 29 – 67, with bilateral, essentially symmetrical, sensorineural hearing loss who had no prior hearing aid experience. Participants were fit with Oticon Epoq XW hearing aids bilaterally and completed the localization and the hearing in noise task with three listening conditions: (1) without hearing aids (NO), (2) with hearing aids that were not linked (BIL), and (3) with hearing aids that were linked (BIN). For the localization task, 1.5 second pink noise bursts at 75 dB SPL were used as the stimulus. A 180° 11-speaker array was set up to the right or left side of the participants. A twelfth speaker on the contralateral side of the array introduced constant background pink noise at 65 dB SPL. Results revealed that participants performed the best with the NO condition, followed by BIL, then BIN. There was a significant difference between NO and BIL and NO and BIN. For the hearing in noise (HIN) task, sentences from the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) were used as target stimuli. Continuous discourse by one male and two female talkers were used as maskers. There were four masker conditions for this task: (1) signal at 0°, masker at 90° (S0-N90), (2) signal at 0°, masker at 180° (S0-N180), (3) signal at 0°, masker at 270° (S0-N270), and (4) signal at 0°, maskers at 90°, 180°, and 270° (S0-N90, 180, 270). Results revealed that there was no significant difference between listening conditions when all masker conditions were considered. When the one-masker conditions were included, there was a significant difference between the NO and BIL and the NO and BIN conditions with the best performance for BIL, followed by BIN, then NO. Results also revealed a significant difference between masker conditions with the best performance for S0-N270, next best for S0-N90, followed by S0-N180, then S0-N90, 180, 270.