Cocktail Party Effect…
Most people have trouble making sense of overlapping voices in a busy environment, and the process of focusing on one voice and filtering out other noise is commonly known as “The Cocktail Party Effect”. If a person with normal hearing struggles in situations like this, imagine how difficult it is for people with hearing loss!
Many new hearing aids are including deep neural networking to try to reduce this issue and enhance speech understanding within background noise, but there is always room for improvement.
People with normal hearing can most of the time separate and understand multiple voices, but occasionally have trouble figuring out which voice is saying what. However, a new study suggests that this is very different to how people with hearing loss experience “The Cocktail Party Effect”.
A new study published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology suggests that for people with a hearing impairment, the reason they struggle more in busy background noises may be a processing problem in which two ears blend different sounds together – a condition known as binaural pitch fusion.
The new study suggests that, for people with hearing impairment, fusing of different sounds from both ears leads to sound blending together in a way that is often unintelligible.
Using statistical analysis, researchers definitively revealed that people with hearing loss experienced abnormal fusion of speech across both ears, even for different voice pitches.
The authors state that “Abnormal binaural fusion may provide a new explanation for the difficulties that hearing-impaired listeners have with understanding speech in multi-talker environments,” and have called the research a breakthrough.
They imply that this research can potentially provide new therapies and insights on how to improve the perception of speech among the millions of people who experience hearing loss!