Horizontal localization with pinna compensation algorithm and inter-ear coordinated dynamic-range compression
Many hearing-aid users show poorer aided than unaided localization performance even when audibility is accounted for. One source of potential disruption of aided localization include the use of wide dynamic range compression circuits operating independently at each ear in bilateral fittings, which can compromise the interaural-level-difference (ILD) cues used for left-right localization. The natural ILD cues can be restored by coordinating the gain between the two hearing aids wirelessly. Another potential source of disrupted localization include the absence of pinna-shadow when using behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids with omnidirectional microphones. A pinna shadow compensation feature that restores the natural attenuation for sounds originating from behind was developed. This study examined the localization performance of hearing-impaired listeners in the horizontal plane when using a BTE hearing aid incorporating inter-ear coordinated compression and a pinna-shadow compensation algorithm. Fifteen listeners who had previously participated in a localization study were recruited. The data demonstrated that the use of the pinna-shadow compensation algorithm improved the localization accuracy over a BTE hearing aid with an omnidirectional microphone. A modest improvement in localization performance was measured for some listeners when using the coordinated inter-ear compression.
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