Robust Data-Driven Auditory Profiling Towards Precision Audiology

Raul Sanchez Lopez*, Michal Fereczkowski, Tobias Neher, Sébastien Santurette, Torsten Dau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The sources and consequences of a sensorineural hearing loss are diverse. While several approaches have aimed at disentangling the physiological and perceptual consequences of different etiologies, hearing deficit characterization and rehabilitation have been dominated by the results from pure-tone audiometry. Here, we present a novel approach based on data-driven profiling of perceptual auditory deficits that attempts to represent auditory phenomena that are usually hidden by, or entangled with, audibility loss. We hypothesize that the hearing deficits of a given listener, both at hearing threshold and at suprathreshold sound levels, result from two independent types of "auditory distortions." In this two-dimensional space, four distinct "auditory profiles" can be identified. To test this hypothesis, we gathered a data set consisting of a heterogeneous group of listeners that were evaluated using measures of speech intelligibility, loudness perception, binaural processing abilities, and spectrotemporal resolution. The subsequent analysis revealed that distortion type-I was associated with elevated hearing thresholds at high frequencies and reduced temporal masking release and was significantly correlated with elevated speech reception thresholds in noise. Distortion type-II was associated with low-frequency hearing loss and abnormally steep loudness functions. The auditory profiles represent four robust subpopulations of hearing-impaired listeners that exhibit different degrees of perceptual distortions. The four auditory profiles may provide a valuable basis for improved hearing rehabilitation, for example, through profile-based hearing-aid fitting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Hearing
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Audiology
  • Hearing deficits
  • Precision medicine
  • Data-driven analysis

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