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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

ISVR-HFRU-105: Evaluating Hearing Aids Using Brain Responses to Speech

Research Group: Human Sciences Research Group

Research Theme: Bioengineering and Human Factors


Project Description

In the UK, about 6 million people could benefit from hearing aids, yet there are only approximately 2 million hearing aid users. The current project aims to improve evaluation of hearing aid performance, and hence the adjustment of such devices for individual patients. The key technique will be the use of measurements taken directly from the brain's response to speech, by analyzing the electroencephalographic (EEG) responses obtained from electrodes placed on the scalp. Such tests, that do not require voluntary responses by the listener, are particularly relevant to babies, who are not able to respond and indicate that hearing aids are giving them access to speech, which is critical for their development of language. The project will develop existing methods to measure brain responses to speech. Currently two main approaches are being explored in order to do this: Brainstem level responses to short sounds such as sentences, for example by measuring the modulation following responses of the auditory brainstem, and cortical level responses such as the envelope following responses to running speech. This project will analyse which of these tests is more effective for hearing aid evaluation, or more robust for clinical measurements. The project aims are to develop and evaluate methods to measure EEG responses to speech, both aided and unaided. It is envisaged that methods will initially be tested on adult subjects with a view to developing the methods for infants in the longer term. Applicants should have knowledge and experience of audiology and/or digital signal processing. The project will complement a current EPSRC funded project ‘Personalized fitting and evaluation of hearing aids with EEG responses’ EP/M026728/1, which is a collaboration between the universities of Southampton, Manchester and Imperial College as well as the Interacoustics Research Unit and there is great opportunity to work with the research team of that project as part of the PhD.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Steven Bell, Human Sciences Research Group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 4950


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