Hearing Aid–Induced Plasticity in the Auditory System of Older Adults: Evidence From Speech Perception Purpose We tested whether using hearing aids can improve unaided performance in speech perception tasks in older adults with hearing impairment. Method Unaided performance was evaluated in dichotic listening and speech-in-noise tests in 47 older adults with hearing impairment; 36 participants in 3 study groups were tested before ... Research Article
EDITOR'S AWARD
Research Article  |   October 01, 2015
Hearing Aid–Induced Plasticity in the Auditory System of Older Adults: Evidence From Speech Perception
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Limor Lavie
    University of Haifa, Israel
  • Karen Banai
    University of Haifa, Israel
  • Avi Karni
    University of Haifa, Israel
  • Joseph Attias
    University of Haifa, Israel
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Limor Lavie: lavielimor@gmail.com
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Todd Ricketts
    Associate Editor: Todd Ricketts×
Article Information
Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2015
Hearing Aid–Induced Plasticity in the Auditory System of Older Adults: Evidence From Speech Perception
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1601-1610. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0225
History: Received August 14, 2014 , Revised November 16, 2014 , Accepted June 15, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1601-1610. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-H-14-0225
History: Received August 14, 2014; Revised November 16, 2014; Accepted June 15, 2015

Purpose We tested whether using hearing aids can improve unaided performance in speech perception tasks in older adults with hearing impairment.

Method Unaided performance was evaluated in dichotic listening and speech-in-noise tests in 47 older adults with hearing impairment; 36 participants in 3 study groups were tested before hearing aid fitting and after 4, 8, and 14 weeks of hearing-aid use. The remaining 11 participants served as a control group and were similarly evaluated but were not fitted with hearing aids. Three protocols were compared in the study groups: amplification for the nondominant ear, amplification for the dominant ear, and bilateral amplification. Subsequently, after 4 weeks, all participants were afforded bilateral amplification.

Results In the study groups, unaided dichotic listening scores improved significantly in the nondominant ear by 8 weeks and onward. Significant improvements were also observed for unaided speech identification in noise, with some gains apparent after 4 weeks of hearing-aid use. No gains were observed in the control group.

Conclusions Using hearing aids for a relatively short period can induce changes in the way older adults process auditory inputs in perceptual tasks such as speech identification in noise and dichotic listening. These changes suggest that the central auditory system of older adults retains the potential for behaviorally relevant plasticity.

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