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The University of Southampton

Using Psychophysics to Better Fit Hearing Aids Seminar

12:00 - 13:00
26 February 2020

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Vanui Mardanyan on 44 (0)23 8059 2277 or email .

Event details

ISVR Hearing and Balance Centre Research Seminar

In the audiology clinic, we use psychophysical techniques to assess a patient’s hearing ability, but we leave the psychophysics behind once we turn that assessment into a personalised prescription. When fine-tuning a hearing aid, are we asking patients to comment on adjustments they cannot detect? One fundamental piece of evidence missing from fitting practice is what a noticeable difference in gain is. Expert systems (e.g., fitting software guides) provide common descriptors and solutions for gain adjustments based on practitioner surveys (e.g., decrease high-frequency gain for “tinny” complaints). These systems have not, however, been validated nor quantified. We have therefore sought to provide a psychophysical evidence base for the fitting and troubleshooting of hearing-aid gain. The ability of hearing-aid wearers and candidates to detect incremental changes in gain was measured using both noise and speech stimuli. Participants were then asked to give preferences for variations in the frequency-gain curve and then ascribe a descriptor to their preference. Results show that large initial gain adjustments of 6 dB are necessary to ensure patient focus, and then smaller subsequent steps to ensure gain targets and stability. The lack of agreement and reliability in patients’ labels of gain changes questions the use of descriptor-based expert systems and automated troubleshooting.


William M. Whitmer & Benjamin Caswell-Midwinter




Speaker information

Dr William Whitmer, University of Nottingham. Senior Investigator Scientist, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences. Current research ranges from unconventional hearing prostheses (rethinking the transducer, receiver, and bits between) to ecological validations (surely there's a better bridge between the lab and the field) and self-report improvements (esp. modernising and redefining benefit).

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