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Volume 42 Number 4, July/August 2005, Supplement 2
Pages 117 — 132


Abstract - Bilateral amplification and sound localization: Then and now

Helen J. Simon, PhD

The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, CA
Abstract — This article is concerned with the evolution and pros and cons of bilateral amplification. Determining whether a bilateral hearing aid fitting is superior to that of a monaural hearing aid is a long-standing question; for this reason, the trend toward bilateral amplification has been slow. However, it is now assumed that bilateral amplification has significant advantages over monaural amplification in most cases, a view that is supported by our localization results. In this article, we will address the advantages of bilateral hearing aids and reveal some new localization data that show that most listeners with bilateral amplification, when tested unaided, as well as normal-hearing listeners manifested very high degrees of symmetry in their judgments of perceived angle while listeners who routinely use monaural amplification and those with asymmetric hearing loss had relatively large asymmetries. These data show that asymmetry in localization judgments is a much more sensitive indicator of abnormal localization ability than the magnitude of localization errors.
Key words: asymmetric hearing loss, bilateral amplification, binaural advantage, directional hearing, hearing aids, localization asymmetry, monaural amplification, sensorineural hearing loss, sound localization, speech intelligibility.

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