In situ Hearing Tests for the Purpose of a Self-Fit Hearing Aid

Boymans, M. & Dreschler, W.A. (2017) Audiology and Neurotology. 22(1) pp. 15-23

This study investigated the potential and limitations of a self-fit hearing aid. This can be used in the “developing” world or in countries with large distances between the hearing-impaired subjects and the professional. It contains an on-board tone generator for in situ user-controlled, automated audiometry, and other tests for hearing aid fitting.

Twenty subjects with mild hearing losses were involved. In situ audiometry showed a test-retest reliability (SD <3.7 dB) that compared well with the precision of diagnostic audiometry using headphones.

There was good correspondence (SD <5.2 dB) with traditional pure-tone audiometry. In situ loudness scaling yielded important information about suprathreshold perception, which will have an added value for the selection of compression and the selection of maximum power output to be allowed in hearing aids.

The abstract is available here

Online and Mobile Audiology Screenings Gain Market Recognition

Hocevar, R. (2016) Hearing Journal. 69 (9). pp.26-30

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As audiological testing websites and apps become more sophisticated, it’s increasingly apparent that patients are using their smartphones for far more than catching Pokemon.

GAMIFYING HEARING TESTS

More screening apps may be on the way.

Sound Scouts, an online app for parents to detect hearing problems in an early elementary school-age child, entered the market in 2016. Sound Scouts was developed in collaboration between NAL and CMee4 Productions to diagnose hearing difficulty before a child enters school.

Intended to imitate a game, Sound Scouts features a bionic-eared dog named Patch, who uses his exceptional hearing powers to find a missing ranger in a national park. To play this game, children aged 4 years and 7 months and older are instructed to use almost any earphones–except surround sound or gaming headphones–under adult supervision. Dillon notes that the test is designed to work with headphones that are not calibrated. The adult in charge is instructed to watch a pre-game video, then do a short reference test using both ears at once.

Read the full article here

Hearing test may identify autism risk

ScienceDaily. Published online: 25 July 2016

jigsaw-305576_960_720Researchers have identified an inner ear deficiency in children with Autism that may impact their ability to recognize speech. The findings, which were published in the journal Autism Research, could ultimately be used as a way to identify children at risk for the disorder at an early age.

One of the challenges to early detection of ASD is to find ways to identify children at risk for the disorder sooner and in children with speech delays. Some of the earliest and consistent signs of ASD involve auditory communication, however, most tests rely on speech, and are often ineffective in children who are very young or who have communication delays.

In the new study, researchers used a technique that measures what are called otoacoustic emissions. The test is akin to the screening that many newborns must undergo before leaving the hospital to check for hearing problems. Using miniature speaker/microphone earplugs, the researchers were able to measure hearing deficiencies by listening for signs that the ear is having difficulty processing sounds. Specifically, the device’s highly sensitive microphone can detect minute sound emission made by inner ear outer hair cells in response to certain tones or clicking sounds. If these cells are not functioning properly, the device fails to detect an emission which indicates that inner ear — or cochlear — function is impaired.

The researchers tested the hearing of children between the ages of 6 and 17, roughly half of whom have been diagnosed with ASD. They found that the children with ASD had hearing difficultly in a specific frequency (1-2 kHz) that is important for processing speech. They also found a correlation between the degree of cochlear impairment and the severity of ASD symptoms.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research abstract here

Development and validation of a smartphone-based digits-in-noise hearing test in South African English

Potgieter, J-M. et al. International Journal of Audiology.Published online: 28 April 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/esthervargasc/8623003652/in/photolist-e8Z9yL-87mW2q-DHRMmJ-7vcjwV-8YMPun-gA3McR-qB7cNm-nmbTzF-a39Vsb-opLsGL-a99Hec-BSZ9N-dwcazC-D3NQ8-a9Xz3a-87mW35-afa19p-8wFhW5-auX7aW-8wChAr-a8wg5A-gxA64g-9sVnJf-a7VvLi-aibQoL-kBMUEc-a1Ef4T-8W83rf-rYRjZi-87mW1A-a956kx-9w2PxE-87mW3E-87iJj8-bj7fsg-6XhQZZ-7JpK9k-aDKyVu-b9aBgK-9RnbbW-2GGGE-71GVEH-aWoEBa-fTLDNL-ewLuku-fjqKQv-adzrYm-8Uy4od-8vQNqu-aa1o95

Image source: Esther Vargas // CC BY-SA 2.0

Objective: The objective of this study was to develop and validate a smartphone-based digits-in-noise hearing test for South African English.

Design: Single digits (0–9) were recorded and spoken by a first language English female speaker. Level corrections were applied to create a set of homogeneous digits with steep speech recognition functions. A smartphone application was created to utilize 120 digit-triplets in noise as test material. An adaptive test procedure determined the speech reception threshold (SRT). Experiments were performed to determine headphones effects on the SRT and to establish normative data.

Study sample: Participants consisted of 40 normal-hearing subjects with thresholds ≤15 dB across the frequency spectrum (250–8000 Hz) and 186 subjects with normal-hearing in both ears, or normal-hearing in the better ear.

Results: The results show steep speech recognition functions with a slope of 20%/dB for digit-triplets presented in noise using the smartphone application. The results of five headphone types indicate that the smartphone-based hearing test is reliable and can be conducted using standard Android smartphone headphones or clinical headphones.

Conclusion: A digits-in-noise hearing test was developed and validated for South Africa. The mean SRT and speech recognition functions correspond to previous developed telephone-based digits-in-noise tests.

Read the abstract here