A Set of Time-and-Frequency-Localized Short-Duration Speech-Like Stimuli for Assessing Hearing-Aid Performance via Cortical Auditory-Evoked Potentials

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Short-duration speech-like stimuli, for example, excised from running speech, can be used in the clinical setting to assess the integrity of the human auditory pathway at the level of the cortex. Modeling of the cochlear response to these stimuli demonstrated an imprecision in the location of the spectrotemporal energy, giving rise to uncertainty as to what and when of a stimulus caused any evoked electrophysiological response. This article reports the development and assessment of four short-duration, limited-bandwidth stimuli centered at low, mid, mid-high, and high frequencies, suitable for free-field delivery and, in addition, reproduction via hearing aids. The durations were determined by the British Society of Audiology recommended procedure for measuring Cortical Auditory-Evoked Potentials. The levels and bandwidths were chosen via a computational model to produce uniform cochlear excitation over a width exceeding that likely in a worst-case hearing-impaired listener. These parameters produce robustness against errors in insertion gains, and variation in frequency responses, due to transducer imperfections, room modes, and age-related variation in meatal resonances. The parameter choice predicts large spectral separation between adjacent stimuli on the cochlea. Analysis of the signals processed by examples of recent digital hearing aids mostly show similar levels of gain applied to each stimulus, independent of whether the stimulus was presented in isolation, bursts, continuous, or embedded in continuous speech. These stimuli seem to be suitable for measuring hearing-aided Cortical Auditory-Evoked Potentials and have the potential to be of benefit in the clinical setting.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalTrends in Hearing (Online)
Early online date20 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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