Changing Hearing Performance and Sound Preference With Words and Expectations: Meaning Responses in Audiology

Hodgetts, W. E., Aalto, D., Ostevik, A., & Cummine, J. |2018 | Changing Hearing Performance and Sound Preference With Words and Expectations: Meaning Responses in Audiology| Ear and hearing| Epub ahead of print | Doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000634

A new article, soon to be published in the journal Ear and hearing, adds to the literature on nonauditory factors such as motivation, effort, and task demands that can impact performance in clinics and laboratories. 



In this article, we explore two manipulations of “meaning response,” intended to either “impart” meaning to participants through the manipulation of a few words in the test instructions or to “invite” meaning by making the participant feel involved in the setting of their preferred sound.


In experiment 1, 59 adults with normal hearing were randomly assigned to one of the two groups. Group 1 was told “this hearing in noise test (HINT) you are about to do is really hard,” while the second group was told “this HINT test is really easy.” In experiment 2, 59 normal-hearing adults were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Every participant was played a highly distorted sound file and given 5 mystery sliders on a computer to move as often and as much as they wished until the sound was “best” to them. They were then told we applied their settings to a new file and they needed to rate their sound settings on this new file against either (1) another participant in the study, or (2) an expert audiologist. In fact, we played them the same sound file twice.


In experiment 1, those who were told the test was hard performed significantly better than the easy group. In experiment 2, a significant preference was found in the group when comparing “my setting” to “another participant.” No significant difference was found in the group comparing “my setting” to the “expert.”


Imparting or inviting meaning into the context of audiological outcome measurement can alter outcomes even in the absence of any additional technology or treatment. These findings lend support to a growing body of research about the many nonauditory factors including motivation, effort, and task demands that can impact performance in our clinics and laboratories.

Rotherham NHS staff can request this article here 



Individuals with intellectual disabilities who have hearing impairments

Willem Meindert Buskermolen, Joop Hoekman, Albert Pierre Aldenkamp (2016). The nature and rate of behaviour that challenges in individuals with intellectual disabilities who have hearing impairments/deafness (a longitudinal prospective cohort survey). British Journal of Learning Disabilities. DOI: 10.1111/bld.12173


Background: In this article, we describe our study of the prevalence of behaviour that challenges and which internal factors are related to behaviour that challenges in 21 people (fourteen are male, seven are female, varying in age from 12.4 to 42 years; mean 26.6, SD 7.27) with intellectual disabilities who have hearing impairments.

Materials and Methods: Data were obtained by recording behaviour on a daily basis during one year using the ‘Individual Behaviour Observation and Rating Scale’ that was developed especially for this study.

Results: It was found that 100% of the participants in this study showed behaviour that challenges, although this was not observed every day in each participant. Prevalence rates during a year varied from 1.8% to 77.3%. On average, the prevalence rate was 28.9%. We found a significantly negative correlation between behaviour that challenges and delay of communication as well as the level of social independence. We also found that in people with autism spectrum disorder, the prevalence of behaviour that challenges was significantly higher than in people without autism spectrum disorder. The level of intellectual disability as well as the level of hearing impairments was not related to the prevalence of behaviour that challenges.

Conclusion: Because there are several patterns of increasing and decreasing behaviour that challenges throughout the day, it is not possible to draw one conclusion on this issue for the whole group. However, where certain individual patterns can be recognised, it is possible to make individual plans for the clients. This could mean an improvement in daily care and as a result an improvement in the quality of life for people with intellectual disability who have hearing impairments. Implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Hearing progress

Action on Hearing Loss has published its latest edition of Hearing Progress, detailing the achievements its researchers have made over the last year.

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This year’s edition highlights recent triumphs, including breakthroughs in understanding glue ear and otosclerosis, ways to better stimulate the auditory nerve – the key to improving cochlear implants – and establishing the link between tinnitus and ‘hidden hearing loss’.

A new drug for tinnitus?

Researchers in the US have been investigating a potential new drug to treat epilepsy, which also shows promise in preventing tinnitus developing after exposure to loud noise. Read the latest blog from Action on Hearing Loss to learn more about this research, and how, one day, it might lead to a new treatment for tinnitus.

Reference to the research: Kalappa BI, et al. (2015) Potent KCNQ2/3-specific channel activator suppresses in vivo epileptic activity and prevents the development of tinnitus. J. Neurosci. 35:8829

Dietary habits and hearing

Rosenhall, U. et al. Dietary habits and hearing. International Journal of Audiology February 2015, Vol. 54, No. S1 , Pages S53-S56

Objective: Study groups from three age cohorts of 70–75 year-olds were investigated to search for possible correlations between dietary habits and auditory function.

Design: A cross-sectional, epidemiological study. Study sample: A total number of 524 people (275 women, 249 men) were recruited from three age cohorts. The study sample was representative of the general population. All participants answered a diet history and were tested with pure-tone audiometry. Eleven categories of food consumption were related to pure-tone averages of low-mid frequency hearing, and high frequency hearing.

Results: Two consistent correlations between diet and hearing were observed. One was a correlation between good hearing and a high consumption of fish in the male group. The other was a correlation between poor high frequency hearing and a high consumption of food rich in low molecular carbohydrates in both genders; a larger effect size was seen in females.

Conclusions: The study indicates that diet is important for aural health in aging. According to this study fish is beneficial to hearing, whereas consumption of “junk food”, rich in low molecular carbohydrates, is detrimental. Other correlations, e.g. between high consumption of antioxidants, were not demonstrated here, but cannot be excluded.

How to Build, and Keep, the Right Hearing Healthcare Team

Gina, S. How to Build, and Keep, the Right Hearing Healthcare Team. Hearing Journal February 2015 p 26-30

Team management

The process of recruiting, training, and retaining hearing healthcare staff members—whether they are audiologists, audiology assistants, or other office team members—seems to be equal parts science and art. It’s also one of the most important elements of running an audiology practice, especially in an age where private practices must compete with big-box stores and online hearing aid sales.

Dying to Be Heard: Hearing Healthcare at the End of Life

Shaw, G. Dying to Be Heard: Hearing Healthcare at the End of Life. Hearing Journal: January 2015 – Volume 68:Issue 1 – p 18,19,22

Good hearing healthcare is essential for people facing the end of life, and yet it often goes overlooked by care providers and families focused on the many other medical, financial, social, legal, and additional concerns that come up when someone is dying.