Effects of directional hearing aid processing and motivation on EEG responses to continuous noisy speech
Arguably, the next frontier in hearing aid (HA) development are devices that can infer (or learn) the needs of the user via non-invasive physiological measurements such as electroencephalography (EEG) and adjust themselves accordingly. A promising approach to translating EEG signals into HA control signals is the analysis of EEG impulse responses to running speech, as obtained by cross-correlating the audio stimulus with the concurrently recorded EEG signal. Here, we used this method for examining neural correlates of the effects of directional HA processing and listener motivation on speech comprehension in noise. Groups of older participants with normal or impaired hearing listened to audiobook material embedded in realistic cafeteria noise while their EEG was recorded using mobile hardware. A HA simulator was used for (dis)engaging a directional microphone setting and for providing amplification. Motivation was manipulated by offering a monetary reward for good speech comprehension in half of the trials. Motivation influenced the participants’ listening performance but not their EEG responses. Directional HA benefit, however, was reflected in both the behavioural and EEG data, thereby illustrating the potential of the tested approach with respect to enabling online HA control.
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