Current Research

If you are interested in learning more about participating in our studies, please fill-out this form and we will contact you with more information. 

Our long-term research goal is to develop accurate, sensitive, and efficient methodologies/measures to assess behaviors and perception during speech communication for older adults with hearing impairment. The methodologies and measures can be used to determine the success of hearing health care, optimize the configuration of hearing enhancement technologies, and identify the problems that prevent or reduce the benefit from or use of hearing enhancement technologies. The HAAR Lab is housed in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and is a fully equipped experimental facility. The laboratory is outfitted with a control space and a custom double-walled sound suite for audiological, speech recognition, and other perceptual tests. The laboratory also contains a reverbertation chamber, anechoic chamber, equipment, tools, and software for creating a wide range of acoustical environments.

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

With the availability of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids fast approaching we are aiming to develop guidelines regarding the frequency responses of OTC devices for manufacturers as well as guidelines for self-diagnosis and self-fitting of OTC devices for consumers.

Longitudinal Outcomes with OTC Hearing Aids
How successful are individuals at teaching themselves to use over-the-counter amplifiers to rehabilitate age-related hearing loss. In this study participants will select amplification devices and teach themselves how to use them through written materials and online instructional videos. Subjects will also complete a 12 week hearing aid field trial and assess how they are hearing in the real world through surveys delivered through a smartphone app. This project is funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Cost-effective Hearing Aid Service Delivery Models
Professional services contribute to the high cost of hearing aids, but if we remove the services can consumers successfully chose the optimal amplification and teach themselves how to use it? In this study we compare a range of ways to dispense hearing aids with and without professional services. This project is funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Outcomes with Hearing Aids in Adults with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Related Dementias
Can hearing aids reduce the burden of those taking care of individuals with dementia and hearing loss? Participants in this study will complete a 7 week hearing aid trial. Their caregivers will complete paper and pencil questionnaires as well as real-world surveys delivered through a smartphone app. This project is funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

EMA, also known as experience sampling or ambulatory assessment, is a methodology that asks respondents to repeatedly report on their experiences during or right after them (i.e., momentary) in their natural environments (i.e., ecological). EMA provides a rich description of a sample of moments in respondents’ lives, while avoiding the distortions that affect the delayed recall and evaluation of experiences. Further, modern smartphone-based EMA allows respondents to express their experiences using their own words by typing or recording on the smartphones. Our research has indicated that in-situ self -reports collected using EMA are more sensitive than retrospective questionnaires.

EMA


Real-time data-logging hearing aids
Although EMA allows us to collect fine-grained data regarding HA user’s perception and the property of real-world environments, it does not provide real-time information about the status of HA features (e.g., the status of microphone mode and the amount of gain reduction). This information is critical to understanding HA outcomes because modern HAs interact and respond to changes in acoustic environments and therefore the feature status is not time-invariant. We further integrate the real-time data-logging HAs and smartphone-based EMA and use this system compare auditory ecology and HA behaviors for adults with and without hearing loss. The new system allows us to collect interesting data describing the complex relationships between HA users’ perception, HA feature status, and environmental/social contextual factors.

Context-sensitive assessment of real-world situations via integrated smartphones and hearing aids
The purpose of the project, which is part of the RERC center grant, is to develop a system that uses the connection between smartphones and hearing aids to conduct context-sensitive assessments.

Previous Research Projects

Optimizing OTC Hearing Aids. The goal of this project was to compare pre-set amplification responses to audiologist-fitted prescription targets in a laboratory setting and in the real world. Subjects tried different ways to self-diagnose their amount of hearing loss and completed 3, one month field trials each with a different amplification scheme.

Impact of directional microphone systems on speech recognition and localization for special listening situations. The goal of this project was to investigate the effect of a new hearing aid binaural processing features on speech recognition and localization performance in situations in which talker of interest is located to the side or behind the listener.

Measuring Listening Effort: Developing Psychometric Functions and Adaptive Testing Procedures for the Dual-Task Paradigm. The goal of this project was to systematically characterize the psychometric function of the dual-task paradigm for younger and older adults, and to examine the accuracy and reliability of a novel adaptive dual-task methodology

Acceptable Noise Level Test (ANL): The use of ANL in a non-English-speaking culture. The goal of this two-site, international project was to investigate how language and culture-specific personality affect the ANL and if the ANL can predict hearing aid success in a culture outside the U.S. Studies are concurrently conducted in the U.S. and Taiwan.

Minimal technologies for hearing aid success in elderly adults. The goal of this project was to use novel hearing aid outcome measures to investigate real-world efficacy of hearing aid technologies in elderly adults.

Systematically Investigating the Effect of Directional Speech Enhancement on Listening Effort. The goal of this project was to investigate the effect of new hearing aid feature on listening effort, which is the cognitive resource allocated for speech recognition using an optimized dual-task paradigm.

Measuring listening effort: Developing psychometric functions and adaptive testing procedures for the dual-task paradigm. The goal of this project was to systematically characterize the psychometric function of the dual-task paradigm for younger and older adults, and to examine the accuracy and reliability of a novel adaptive dual-task methodology.

Acceptable Noise Levels (ANL): A trait or a state? The goal of this project was to investigate the extent to which the ANL test taps stable (i.e., personality trait and noise sensitivity) and unstable (i.e., mood state) variance of an individual’s psychological characteristic.

Evaluating the effectiveness of new hearing aid technologies while listening in a car. The goal of this project was to investigate the effect of hearing loss and hearing aid technologies, including directional microphones and digital noise reduction algorithms, on speech perception performance in automobiles and driving safety using a car simulator.

Establishing a conceptual model of the Acceptable Noise Level Test (ANL). The goal of the proposed research was to establish a conceptual model that elucidates the mechanism underlying the ANL.

Impact of a new automatic directional microphone system for special listening situations. The goal of this project was to investigate the efficacy and effectiveness of a new directional microphone system in situations where the talker of interest is behind the listener.

Directional microphones: A systematic evaluation of directional microphones in natural environments. The purpose of the project was to investigate the effects of reverberation, visual cues, and social lifestyle on efficacy and effectiveness of hearing aids with directional microphones.

Impact of visual cues on directional benefit and preference. The goal of this project was to determine the effect of visual cues on benefit provided by hearing aid directional microphones in the laboratory and the real world.