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Compression and amplification algorithms in hearing aids impair the selectivity of neural responses to speech

Armstrong, AG; Lam, CC; Sabesan, S; Lesica, NA; (2021) Compression and amplification algorithms in hearing aids impair the selectivity of neural responses to speech. Nature Biomedical Engineering 10.1038/s41551-021-00707-y. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In quiet environments, hearing aids improve the perception of low-intensity sounds. However, for high-intensity sounds in background noise, the aids often fail to provide a benefit to the wearer. Here, using large-scale single-neuron recordings from hearing-impaired gerbils—an established animal model of human hearing—we show that hearing aids restore the sensitivity of neural responses to speech, but not their selectivity. Rather than reflecting a deficit in supra-threshold auditory processing, the low selectivity is a consequence of hearing-aid compression (which decreases the spectral and temporal contrasts of incoming sound) and amplification (which distorts neural responses, regardless of whether hearing is impaired). Processing strategies that avoid the trade-off between neural sensitivity and selectivity should improve the performance of hearing aids.

Type: Article
Title: Compression and amplification algorithms in hearing aids impair the selectivity of neural responses to speech
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41551-021-00707-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-021-00707-y
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > The Ear Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127805
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