Objective: Inability to understand speech in noise has been cited repeatedly as the principal complaint of hearing aid users. While data exist documenting the benefit provided by hearing aids with directional microphones when listening to speech in noise, little work has been done to develop a standard clinical protocol for fitting these hearing aids. Our goal was to evaluate a clinical measure of the acoustic directivity of a directional hearing aid, including its association with a test of speech perception in noise. Design: The performance of two commercially available directional behind-the-car (BTE) hearing aids was evaluated using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) and the Real Ear Aided Response (REAR) on 24 adult participants with symmetric, mild to moderately severe, sensorineural hearing loss. The HINT was conducted with the speech signal presented from 0° and the noise from 180° and either 135° or 225° degrees, depending on the ear tested. REAR was measured at the above three angles using swept pure tones, and these measures were used to compute in situ directivity for each subject and hearing aid. Conclusions: Directional benefit for the HINT was greatest when noise was presented from the azimuth of the published polar diagram null of a given hearing aid in its directional mode (180 of 135/225°). The only significant correlation between HINT and REAR results, however, was found when the noise source was at 180°. These results confirm the validity of using real ear measures as a way to assess directionality in situ, but also indicate the complexity of predicting perceptual benefit from them. These data suggest that factors beyond acoustic directionality may contribute to improvement in speech perception in noise when such improvements are found.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Ear and Hearing|
|Publication status||Published - Apr 2004|