Word Recognition and Learning: Effects of Hearing Loss and Amplification Feature

Andrea Pittman, Elizabeth C. Stewart, Amanda P. Willman, Ian S. Odgear

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Scopus citations


    Two amplification features were examined using auditory tasks that varied in stimulus familiarity. It was expected that the benefits of certain amplification features would increase as the familiarity with the stimuli decreased. A total of 20 children and 15 adults with normal hearing as well as 21 children and 17 adults with mild to severe hearing loss participated. Three models of ear-level devices were selected based on the quality of the high-frequency amplification or the digital noise reduction (DNR) they provided. The devices were fitted to each participant and used during testing only. Participants completed three tasks: (a) word recognition, (b) repetition and lexical decision of real and nonsense words, and (c) novel word learning. Performance improved significantly with amplification for both the children and the adults with hearing loss. Performance improved further with wideband amplification for the children more than for the adults. In steady-state noise and multitalker babble, performance decreased for both groups with little to no benefit from amplification or from the use of DNR. When compared with the listeners with normal hearing, significantly poorer performance was observed for both the children and adults with hearing loss on all tasks with few exceptions. Finally, analysis of across-task performance confirmed the hypothesis that benefit increased as the familiarity of the stimuli decreased for wideband amplification but not for DNR. However, users who prefer DNR for listening comfort are not likely to jeopardize their ability to detect and learn new information when using this feature.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalTrends in Hearing
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


    • adults
    • amplification
    • bandwidth
    • children
    • digital noise reduction
    • hearing loss
    • nonword detection
    • word learning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Otorhinolaryngology
    • Speech and Hearing


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