National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders awards grant to improve hearing aids of the future
September 12, 2012
Arnold School researcher Dr. Daniel Fogerty has launched a project to advance the design of more cost-effective hearing aids that improve the speech understanding abilities of older listeners in noisy listening conditions.
The $318,150 study will involve about 80 volunteers who will participate in auditory testing at Fogerty’s Speech Perception Laboratory over the next three years.
Fogerty, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, said hearing aids are important in helping persons hear better, and they work particularly well in quiet environments.
“But, if you talk with number of older adults, particularly if they have a hearing loss, one of the primary complaints they have in understanding speech is that they have difficulty understanding it in noisy listening environments such as a restaurant,” he said.
Additionally, while hearing aids on the market today amplify sound signals and do help many, they do not compensate for all of the hearing difficulties that older listeners have, Fogerty continued.
The study, funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, “aims to identify essential acoustical properties of speech, so we can customize the programing of hearing aids to be more selective in terms of what they amplify as well as to customize them to the individual,” Fogerty said.
“Some people may be better at processing certain (acoustical) cues than others, so we can tailor these devices in terms of programming to the individual,” he said.
Volunteers for the project will be divided into four groups of about 20 persons each. The groups will consist of college-age students with normal hearing, older adults with normal hearing, older adults with hearing impairment and younger adults with simulated hearing impairment.
With about a year of service, Fogerty is a newcomer to the Arnold School faculty. In 2001 he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and psychology from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.; in 2004, a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Michigan State University, and in 2010, a doctorate in speech and hearing sciences/cognitive science from Indiana University.