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Poster E82

Neurophysiological Adaptation to Hearing Amplification: Rapid Reduction of Listening Effort in Older Adults

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Maxime Perron1,2 (, Brian Lau2, Claude Alain1,2; 1University of Toronto, 2Baycrest Academy for Research and Education

Understanding speech-in-noise poses a significant challenge for older adults with hearing loss, leading to increased listening effort. This increased effort can impact higher cognitive functions due to limited cognitive resources. Traditional interventions such as hearing aids face barriers such as cost, which has led to the development of accessible alternatives such as Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs). The adoption of these solutions is crucial, especially considering that sustained listening effort can lead to mental fatigue and reduced cognitive performance. This study examined changes in listening effort associated with hearing amplification, focusing specifically on self-reported measures and alpha power (8-12 Hz). Twenty-seven participants, aged 60-87 years, underwent a hearing assessment, including pure-tone audiometry and the QuickSIN test. Participants engaged in a syllable discrimination task, indicating whether pairs of syllables were the same or different under three signal-to-noise ratios. Self-reported listening effort was measured during the task, which was performed twice in two counterbalanced sessions (with and without PSAPs), while brain activity was recorded by electroencephalography (EEG). Results indicated significantly reduced self-reported effort during speech-in-noise with PSAPs. Parieto-temporal alpha power increased with signal-to-noise ratios but was mitigated (i.e., reduced) by hearing amplification. The reduction in alpha power coincided with a decrease in self-reported effort. Source localization indicated diminished activity in left auditory regions with amplification, particularly in the auditory cortex and thalamus. These findings suggest that, following a brief period of PSAP use, the brain rapidly adapts to amplification, highlighting the potential of over-the-counter devices to alleviate listening effort in older adults.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Audition


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