Spotlight: Hearing & Balance in the News
Hearing Loss and Balance: An Infographic
American Academy of Audiology | Reston, Virginia
Posted here January 15, 2021
Published July 2019
To read more about conditions related to hearing and balance difficulties, click here.
Eye Position Affects Your Auditory Spatial Attention --Where to Look to Improve "Cocktail Party" Listening
SciTech Daily | Encinitas, California
Posted here December 13, 2020
Published December 9, 2020
Several acoustic studies have shown that the position of your eyes determines where your visual spatial attention is directed, which automatically influences your auditory spatial attention. Researchers are currently exploring its impact on speech intelligibility.
During the 179th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, which will be held virtually December 7-10, Virginia Best, of Boston University, will describe her work to determine whether there is a measurable effect of eye position within cocktail party listening situations. Her poster session, “An effect of eye position in cocktail party listening,” will start at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9.
A “cocktail party” in their work refers to four competing talkers in addition to the talker for whom you are trying to pay attention.
“Our primary motivation was an intuition that eye position may be especially critical within these situations, where there is substantial energetic and informational masking,” said Best. “A secondary motivation was our interest in visually guided beamforming, where the eyes are used to steer a highly directional hearing aid.”
Several acoustic studies have shown that the position of your eyes determines where your visual spatial attention is directed, which automatically influences your auditory spatial attention. Researchers are currently exploring its impact on speech intelligibility. Credit: Virginia Best.
Best and colleagues presented participants with sequences of digits from five loudspeakers positioned in front of the listener with a spacing of 15 degrees and asked them to repeat back the digits presented from one target loudspeaker. In some cases, participants were asked to visually fixate on the target loudspeaker. In others, participants were asked to visually fixate on a nontarget loudspeaker.
During these tasks, participants’ head position was stabilized on a neck rest, and their eye position was monitored with an eye tracker. Performance was best when eye fixation was on target, and it suffered when eye fixation was off target.
This shows an influence of eye position within multi-talker situations, even without visual information such as lip reading, according to Best. It suggests optimal performance depends on the spatial alignment of auditory and visual attention.
“Our task is theoretically applicable to any situation in which there are competing voices, including parties, restaurants, and meeting rooms,” Best said. “The reason we spend a lot of time studying these situations is because they are extremely difficult for people with hearing impairment and hearing aids.”
Meeting: 179th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
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Study Reveals Brain Region’s Previously Unknown Role in Planning Movements Exclusively in Response to Sounds
Hearing Health & Technology Matters | Tucson, Arizona
Posted here February 3, 2021
Published January 16, 2021
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, provides evidence that neurons in the middle frontal gyrus — a part of the brain’s frontal lobe — may play a role in planning body movements, but only when those movements are in response to auditory stimuli.
The findings represent what could be a previously unknown function for this part of the brain and could provide a new target for researchers developing assistive devices for both movement and hearing disorders.
The work was part of the BrainGate clinical trial, which studies a tiny investigational implant capable of recording information directly from the brain and using that information to drive the movement of computer cursors or even robotic prosthetic devices.
“One of the opportunities afforded by the BrainGate clinical trial is that at the same time as we’re working toward helping people with paralysis, we’re also learning new things about the human brain,” said Dr. Leigh Hochberg, a neurologist, professor of engineering at Brown University and director of the trial and BrainGate consortium. “This finding turned out to be a complete surprise, which is exciting.”
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