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Volume 43 Number 4, July/August 2006
Pages 537 — 552

Abstract - Perceptual training improves syllable identification in new and experienced hearing aid users

G . Christopher Stecker, PhD;1-2 Glen A. Bowman, BA;1 E. William Yund, PhD;1 Timothy J. Herron, MA;1 Christina M. Roup, PhD;1,3 David L. Woods, PhD1,4*

1Human Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System, Martinez, CA; 2Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 3Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; 4Department of Neurology, University of California Davis, Sacramento, CA
Abstract — We assessed the effects of perceptual training of syllable identification in noise on nonsense syllable test (NST) performance of new (Experiment 1) and experienced (Experiment 2) hearing aid (HA) users with sensorineural hearing loss. In Experiment 1, new HA users were randomly assigned to either immediate training (IT) or delayed training (DT) groups. IT subjects underwent 8 weeks of at-home syllable identification training and in-laboratory testing, whereas DT subjects underwent identical in-laboratory testing without training. Training produced large improvements in syllable identification in IT subjects, whereas spontaneous improvement was minimal in DT subjects. DT subjects then underwent training and showed performance improvements comparable with those of the IT group. Training-related improvement in NST scores significantly exceeded improvements due to amplification. In Experiment 2, experienced HA users received identical training and testing procedures as users in Experiment 1. The experienced users also showed significant training benefit. Training-related improvements generalized to untrained voices and were maintained on retention tests. Perceptual training appears to be a promising tool for improving speech perception in new and experienced HA users.
Key words: auditory, hearing aid, hearing loss, learning, masking noise, nonsense syllables, perception, perceptual training, personal computer, phonemes, presbycusis, rehabilitation, speech.

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