Adaptation to hearing-aid microphone modes in a dynamic localisation task
New technology can foster new ways of listening. A new hearing-aid programme can alter how we hear not only sources of sound but also their locations. While previous research has established how different hearing aid types and microphone modes affect static localisation ability, the current study explored the effects of introducing unfamiliar devices and microphone modes on dynamic localisation ability. Twelve experienced users of bilateral behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids oriented themselves to a target sound. Each trial consisted of 5-s segments of a target talker in a continuous background of far-field babble at the same overall level as the target. Targets were presented at either ±30, ±75 or ±120°. Head-orientation trajectories were measured with infra-red cameras. Participants first wore their own hearing aids for one block of 60 trials, then wore a new hearing aid and completed five more blocks in three different directional-microphone modes. In general, results showed trajectory differences between modes, and a modest influence of the preceding mode (i.e., adaptation). Three additional participants experienced with in-the-ear hearing aids oriented poorly with the new BTE device for the first two blocks, then returned to their baseline performance. This suggests that such a form-factor change requires additional time for spatial adaptation.
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