Assessing the benefits of auditory training to real-world listening: identifying appropriate and sensitive outcomes
Henshaw, Helen and Ferguson, Melanie A. (2014) Assessing the benefits of auditory training to real-world listening: identifying appropriate and sensitive outcomes. In: Auditory plasticity - listening with the brain. Danavox Jubilee Foundation, Ballerup, Denmark, pp. 45-52. ISBN 978-87-990013-4-7
Auditory training is an intervention that aims to improve auditory performance and help alleviate the difficulties associated with hearing loss. To be an effective intervention, any task-specific learning needs to transfer to functional benefits in real-world listening. The present study aimed to identify optimal outcome measures to assess the benefits of auditory training for people with hearing loss. Thirty existing hearing-aid users with mild-moderate sensorineural hearing loss trained on a phoneme discrimination in noise task. Complex measures of listening and cognition were assessed pre- and post-training. Functional benefits to everyday listening were examined using a dual-task of listening and memory and an adaptive two-competing talker task. There was significant on-task learning for the trained task (p < .001), and significant transfer of learning to improvements in competing speech (p < .05) and dual-task performance (p < .01). For the dual-task, improvements were shown for a challenging listening condition (0 dB SNR), with no improvements where the task was either too easy (in quiet) or too difficult (-4 dB SNR). Findings suggest that for listening abilities, the development of complex cognitive skills may be more important than the refinement of sensory processing. Outcome measures should be sensitive to the functional benefits of auditory training and set at an appropriately challenging level.
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