Listening effort in the European Population (LISTEN) (WC2013-030)


Starting date: 01/03/2014

Study design:

An innovative method to quantify listening effort (pupillometry) will be further developed. Novel concepts translating laboratory findings back to daily life practice will be explored and validated.

Study population:

Five groups in total: two groups of 18-80 yr old persons with normal hearing (N= 34 for experiments 1/2 and N = 40 for experiment 5) and two groups of 18-80 yr old persons with hearing loss (N = 34 for experiments 1/2  and N = 40 for experiments 3/4). Additionally, a group of 6 normally hearing participants for the pilot study (prior to experiment  1). This sums up to a total of 154 participants.

Main study parameters:

The main study parameters in the study are: (1) The percentage of auditory sentences perceived correctly, (2) the peak pupil dilation (PPD) in response to the cognitive processing load during listening to speech presented in a background of interfering speech and (3) the pupil light reflex (PLR), the pupil response to brief exposure to light.

The PPD will be expressed relative to the pupil size during listening to interfering speech or silence (baseline pupil size). We will assess to what extent the speech and signal characteristics (e.g., signal levels) influence the PPD. We will additionally assess the pupil light reflex (PLR; the constriction of the pupil when exposed to bright light as compared to darkness). We will also examine group effects (e.g., effects of hearing loss) on the test performances, PPD and PLR.

Subjects additionally perform working memory and verbal inference-making tests and complete questionnaires about daily-life (hearing) functioning and stress. We will examine the correlation coefficients between the test performances and speech intelligibility (percentage correct word repetition) and the pupil parameters.