This PhD project is part of the Better hEAring Rehabilitation (BEAR) project, which is a large national research collaboration between several Danish universities, hospitals, and hearing-aid companies (bear-hearing.dk). The overall goal of the BEAR project is to improve individual hearing aid rehabilitation. The current PhD project’s contributions to the BEAR project are in the areas of new strategies for auditory profiling and hearing-aid fitting as well as validation of the new fitting strategies.
In current clinical practice, hearing aids are fitted based on the pure-tone audiogram only. This is in spite of the fact that pure-tone hearing thresholds are unable to capture all deficits induced by a hearing loss. For example, studies have shown that persons with a hearing loss typically have so-called supra-threshold hearing deficits. This means that even though they can hear signals such as speech, they may be unable to understand what is being said, for example. Therefore, the BEAR project has developed a new diagnostic test battery to improve the characterisation of individual hearing deficits. This has led to the definition of a number of ‘auditory profiles’ that capture different types and combinations of hearing deficits.
The main goal of the current project is to assess the effects of these auditory profiles on hearing-aid benefit in challenging speech-in-noise environments. To that end, laboratory measurements are being used to study whether there are any interactions between the auditory profiles and various hearing-aid fitting strategies, whether the auditory profiles can help identify limitations of current hearing-aid fitting strategies for certain types of hearing-aid users, and whether the effects of the auditory profiles on hearing-aid outcome depend on the type of noise enviroment.