Can hearing aids speed up speech comprehension in noise? Insights from eye-tracking measurements and speech-evoked potentials
The effects of hearing aid provision on cognitive-linguistic processes are still rather underexplored. In an earlier study, we compared the performance of two matched groups of participants either with or without hearing aid experience on an eye-tracking task tapping into speech comprehension (cf. Wendt et al, PLoS ONE 2014) under different aided conditions. We found that, despite comparable speech recognition performance, the participants with hearing aid experience were considerably faster at grasping the meaning of the presented sentences than the participants without any hearing aid experience, irrespective of the aided condition. In the current study, we followed up on this by investigating the effects of auditory acclimatization to bilateral amplification on performance on the eye-tracking task. To that end, we tested groups of novice and long-term hearing aid users (N >= 15 each) before and after several months of acclimatization to, or continued use of, bilateral amplification. To explore any neuroplastic changes induced by the provision of amplification we also measured speech-evoked potentials. From the results, we expect that acclimatization to bilateral amplification will result in faster speech comprehension and concomitant changes in late auditory potentials.