Dorothea Wendt

Scientist, PostDoc

To investigate how hearing loss and aiding affect spatial hearing, we measured Normal-Hearing (NH) and Hearing-Impaired (HI) listeners’ speech recognition in multi-talker situations with and without target location uncertainty. Although listeners with hearing loss were particularly affected by this uncertainty, its effects were largely compensated for by aiding.

Measuring the effects of spatial uncertainty

A research team consisting of researchers from Eriksholm Research Centre and from the University of Toronto conducted a counterbalanced crossover study, part of which involved acclimatising eight elderly HI listeners to hearing-aid fittings providing either linear or nonlinear amplification. A control group consisting of eight age-matched NH listeners also participated.

Speech recognition measurements were made using three competing speech signals that were presented via a spatially complex, free-field test setup. To investigate the effect of spatial uncertainty, we varied the certainty with which the target speech came from a certain direction – from being fully predictable to totally unpredictable.



As expected, the HI listeners performed worse than the NH listeners across all conditions, especially when the location of the target became less certain. Furthermore, aiding appeared to have no effect when the situation was completely predictable.

When the situation became unpredictable, however, provision of either linear or nonlinear amplification enabled the HI listeners to understand almost as much as in the completely predictable situations. These results suggest that aiding may provide important benefits in unpredictable, spatially complex multi-talker situations.

Further reading

Singh G , Pichora-Fuller MK, Behrens T, Neher T (2009). The effect of hearing loss on auditory spatial attention. In: Buchholz J, Dalsgaard JC, Dau T, Poulsen T (Eds.) Binaural Processing and Spatial Hearing. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Audiological and Auditory Research, ISAAR, p. 155-164.

Learn More

  • learnmore-poster


    MSc Thesis of Claudia Breit Sprecher - The effect of reverberation on speech recognition in hearing-impaired and normal-hearing listeners

  • studypartners_transparent

    Study partners

    This study was the MSc thesis work of Claudia Breitsprecher, which was carried out in collaboration with the Centre for Applied Hearing Research (CAHR) at the Technical University of Denmark.