Effects of Hearing Loss and Fast-Acting Compression on Amplitude Modulation Perception and Speech Intelligibility

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Objective: The purpose was to investigate the effects of hearing-loss
and fast-acting compression on speech intelligibility and two measures
of temporal modulation sensitivity.
Design: Twelve adults with normal hearing (NH) and 16 adults with mild
to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss were tested. Amplitude
modulation detection and modulation-depth discrimination (MDD)
thresholds with sinusoidal carriers of 1 or 5kHz and modulators in the
range from 8 to 256 Hz were used as measures of temporal modulation
sensitivity. Speech intelligibility was assessed by obtaining speech
reception thresholds in stationary and fluctuating background noise. All
thresholds were obtained with and without compression (using a fixed
compression ratio of 2:1).
Results: For modulation detection, the thresholds were similar or lower
for the group with hearing loss than for the group with NH. In contrast,
the MDD thresholds were higher for the group with hearing loss than for
the group with NH. Fast-acting compression increased the modulation
detection thresholds, while no effect of compression on the MDD thresholds
was observed. The speech reception thresholds obtained in stationary
noise were slightly increased in the compression condition relative
to the linear processing condition, whereas no difference in the speech
reception thresholds obtained in fluctuating noise was observed. For
the group with NH, individual differences in the MDD thresholds could
account for 72% of the variability in the speech reception thresholds
obtained in stationary noise, whereas the correlation was insignificant
for the hearing-loss group.
Conclusions: Fast-acting compression can restore modulation detection
thresholds for listeners with hearing loss to the values observed for listeners
with NH. Despite this normalization of the modulation detection
thresholds, compression does not seem to provide a benefit for speech
intelligibility. Furthermore, fast-acting compression may not be able to
restore MDD thresholds to the values observed for listeners with NH,
suggesting that the two measures of amplitude modulation sensitivity
represent different aspects of temporal processing. For listeners with
NH, the ability to discriminate modulation depth was highly correlated
with speech intelligibility in stationary noise.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEar and Hearing
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI
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