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Poster A138

Speech Perception in Noise Through Hearing Aids: An fNIRS Investigation of Age-Related Hearing Loss

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Allison S. Hancock1 (, Bridger L. Jorgensen1, Mindee L. Anderson1, Alan Wisler1, Tiffany Shelton1, Ronald B. Gillam1, Naveen K. Nagaraj1; 1Utah State University

This study explores the benefits of hearing aid use on speech perception in adults with ARHL using functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). Twelve participants (mean age = 80.3) with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss were asked to listen and repeat sentences in the presence of multi-talker babble noise at challenging Signal-to-Noise Ratios (SNRs), both with and without hearing aids. fNIRS data were recorded from 44 channels, focusing on parasylvian cortex. Linear mixed-effects models were constructed for the dependent variables of speech perception accuracy and fNIRS beta values. The independent variables were Hearing aids (aided vs unaided), SNR (3, 6, 9 dB), and regions of interest (ROI) (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-LDLPFC, superior temporal gyrus-STG, and inferior parietal lobule-IPL). Accuracy was greater with hearing aids and when SNR’s were greater (less noise). fNIRS results revealed significantly greater neural activation in IPL and STG, but significantly less activation in LDLPFC. SNR levels negatively affected beta values, suggesting noisy conditions reduced neural activity in all three ROIs. There was also a significant main effect for hearing aid use, indicating subtle changes in neural activity during challenging noisy conditions. Specifically, wearing hearing aids may enhance temporal lobe activity associated with speech processing while reducing frontal lobe activity. This may indicate that the hearing aid is improving their ability to understand speech in noise, while the reduced frontal lobe activity may suggest that hearing aid is reducing cognitive effort to comprehend speech.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging


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April 13–16  |  2024