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Research project: What are hearing aids up to?

Currently Active: 

Developing methods to evaluate advanced hearing aid features and their benefits for patients.

Modern hearing aids and cochlear implants include advanced signal processing methods to try and help patients. These include features such as multichannel compression, feedback control, noise reduction and auditory scene analysis. However it can be hard to predict how they will work in different situations or how much they benefit patients – particularly when they interact. We are developing methods to try and predict patient benefit and to allow a comparison of hearing aids from different manufacturers.

For example, if someone with a hearing aid is crossing the road, will an approaching bus be heard, or will the noise be categorised as unwanted and be quickly reduced? How fast does this process happen?

How fast will the hearing aid adapt and cut out the bus noise
Hearing aids: Crossing the road

In some situations sound processing may introduce distortions that are unpleasant to the listener, for example when listening to music. By modelling hearing aid processing and perceptual processes in the cochlear we may be able to predict how disturbing distortions are.

We are also using measurements of brain response to sound from infants who are too young to respond, to see how well hearing aids improve access to sound.

Hearing aid test
Kemar hearing aid test

Students associated with this project: Alastair Manders, Katie Ireland

Some outcomes from the project to date:
  • Developing methods to test the directional benefit of hearing aids and to measure how fast adaptive changes occur.
  • Showing that directional benefit can vary significantly between individuals.
  • Developing approaches to quantify the perception of distortion from feedback cancellers.

Associated research themes

Bioengineering and human factors

Related research groups

Signal Processing, Audio and Hearing Group

Key Publications

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