A spectro-temporal modulation test for predicting speech reception in hearing-impaired listeners with hearing aids

Johannes Zaar*, Lisbeth Birkelund Simonsen, Søren Laugesen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Spectro-temporal modulation (STM) detection sensitivity has been shown to be associated with speech-in-noise reception in hearing-impaired (HI) individuals. Based on previous research, a recent study [Zaar, Simonsen, Dau, and Laugesen (2023). Hear Res 427:108650] introduced an STM test paradigm with audibility compensation, employing STM stimulus variants using noise and complex tones as carrier signals. The study demonstrated that the test was suitable for the target population of elderly individuals with moderate-to-severe hearing loss and showed promising predictions of speech-reception thresholds (SRTs) measured in a realistic set up with spatially distributed speech and noise maskers and linear audibility compensation. The present study further investigated the suggested STM test with respect to (i) test-retest variability for the most promising STM stimulus variants, (ii) its predictive power with respect to realistic speech-in-noise reception with non-linear hearing-aid amplification, (iii) its connection to effects of directionality and noise reduction (DIR+NR) hearing-aid processing, and (iv) its relation to DIR+NR preference. Thirty elderly HI participants were tested in a combined laboratory and field study, collecting STM thresholds with a complex-tone based and a noise-based STM stimulus design, SRTs with spatially distributed speech and noise maskers using hearing aids with non-linear amplification and two different levels of DIR+NR, as well as subjective reports and preference ratings obtained in two field periods with the two DIR+NR hearing-aid settings. The results indicate that the noise-carrier based STM test variant (i) showed optimal test-retest properties, (ii) yielded a highly significant correlation with SRTs (R2=0.61) exceeding and complementing the predictive power of the audiogram, (iii) yielded significant correlation (R2=0.51) with the DIR+NR-induced SRT benefit, and (iv) did not provide significant correlation with subjective preference for DIR+NR settings in the field. Overall, the suggested STM test represents a valuable tool for diagnosing speech-reception problems that remain when hearing-aid amplification has been provided and the resulting need for and benefit from DIR+NR hearing-aid processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108949
JournalHearing Research
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Clinical test
  • Noise
  • Noise reduction
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Speech intelligibility
  • Subjective preference


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