Dr Hannah Guest

Research Fellow: Expertise in "hidden" hearing problems and the effects of noise on hearing

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Overview

Over the past decade, I have researched subclinical hearing disorders: "hidden" hearing disorders that don't show up on standard hearing tests. I work to understand their causes, their consequences, and better ways of measuring and diagnosing them.

My largest project (£2.3m, 2021-26) looks at the effects of noise exposure, especially on tinnitus and hearing ability. My other work considers hearing differences in older people, in developing nations, and in the autistic community.

Brief project info is below. If you want to know more (whether you're an academic, student, journalist, clinician, or member of the public), drop me a line at hannah.guest@manchester.ac.uk.

 

The Hearing In Teens (HIT) study (2021-26, £2.3m)

Typical nightclubs and gigs may be loud enough to cause permanent damage to ears and nerves, after even a few visits. Despite valiant efforts by researchers, we still don't adequately understand their consequences. In the UK, many teenagers start routinely going to gigs and clubs at 17-18. The HIT study has measured the hearing of 220 teens (in depth, over 3.5 hours) and will repeat the measurements in 2025, once many of them have noisy nightlives. This before-and-after design (and large group of teens) gives us unprecented power to understand the effects of noise on hearing.

 

The After the Music (ATM) study (2021-23)

Going to a noisy gig or club often causes temporary hearing loss (muffled hearing and tinnitus). But different people experience different amounts of hearing loss, even if attending similar events (same loudness and same duration). Why is it that some people are more vulnerable than others? To find out, we're measuring people's hearing (including very high frequencies) before and immediately after a noisy gig.

 

The SPAACE project: Speech Perception by Autistic Adults in Complex Environments (2020-23)

Autistic people often report difficulties hearing in noisy places, but research findings are pretty unclear. Existing research hasn't asked autistic people to describe in detail what they experience, and this lack of detailed information from the people affected might explain why some lab research has missed the mark. The SPAACE project is run by hearing researchers, autism researchers, and autistic researchers, and uses the expertise of the autistic community to drive better autistic hearing research. 

 

OPAL: Occupational Noise in Palestine (2023-24)

In the UK, health and safety regulations have reduced exposure of workers to damaging noise. In developing nations, the dangers to hearing remain much greater. Dr Adnan Shehabi will collect hearing measurements from Palestinian workers, both in the lab and on job sites, to understand effects of noise on standard hearing tests and "hidden" hearing problems.

 

MOSS: The Manchester Online Speech-perception Suite (2020-22)

Developed over lockdown, MOSS allows researchers to deliver complex speech-in-noise tasks via web browsers all over the world. The tasks are highly configurable, and allow a vast array of speech sounds to be played to listeners without slow loading times. (For the coders out there: It's written in C++ and transpiled via emscripten into wasm, with files downloading while the listener is busy listening and responding, to keep the user experience smooth.) Currently available in English and Arabic. If you're a researcher and fancy using it, email me at hannah.guest@manchester.ac.uk.

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) Hearing & Balance Studies (1st class) - University of Manchester, 2014

PhD Audiology - University of Manchester, 2018

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