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Noisy classroom simulation aids comprehension in hearing-impaired children
Date:2/11/2013

spread across three weeks. They listened to a series of sentences, such as "We saw two brown bears" or "Grandmother gave Bob red beans," masked by staticky background noise intended to simulate a clattering classroom scene.

During the sessions, Sullivan gradually made the regimen more demanding by ratcheting up the number of words in the sentences, the noise volume and the time between hearing the sentence and identifying what words were said. The children had to give correct answers 80 percent of the time before advancing to the next level of difficulty.

Three months after the training, the participants still showed improvements in word recognition over the noise.

Sullivan also found that auditory training with a crackling noise called "interrupted" because white noise was interspersed with fleeting five- to 95-millisecond silences increased hearing comprehension more than using continuous white noise. Children in the interrupted noise group showed about a 50 percent increase in speech intelligibility compared with their hearing at the beginning of the experiment.

"The maintenance of the improvement is a truly significant finding," Sullivan said. "It indicates that new hearing and listening strategies have been developed to detect speech despite noise."

The next step in the research is to see how the regimen works for other people, such as adults and cochlear-implant users, and to other types of noise, including real-world settings.


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Contact: Molly McElroy
mollywmc@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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