Neural modelling to relate individual differences in physiological and perceptual responses with sensorineural hearing loss
A great challenge in diagnosing and treating hearing impairment comes from the fact that people with similar degrees of hearing loss often have different speech-recognition abilities. Many studies of the perceptual consequences of peripheral damage have focused on outer-hair-cell (OHC) effects; however, anatomical and physiological studies suggest that many common forms of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) arise from mixed OHC and inner-hair-cell (IHC) dysfunction. Thus, individual differences in perceptual consequences of hearing impairment may be better explained by a more detailed understanding of differential effects of OHC/IHC dysfunction on neural coding of perceptually relevant sounds. Whereas it is difficult experimentally to estimate or control the degree of OHC/IHC dysfunction in individual subjects, computational neural models provide great potential for predicting systematically the complicated physiological effects of combined OHC/IHC dysfunction. Here, important physiological effects in auditory-nerve (AN) responses following different types of SNHL and the ability of current models to capture these effects are reviewed. In addition, a new approach is presented for computing spike-train metrics of speech-in-noise envelope coding to predict how differential physiological effects may contribute to individual differences in speech intelligibility.
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