metamel (metamel) wrote in hearingaidhacks,

Measuring effortfulness effects of hearing aids

I haven't been posting all my hearing aids notes because I didn't want to clog this group (of course, if people would rather be notified here when a new one pops up, I can do that too -- just let me know in the comments). However, last week's lecture was different enough that I thought I'd mention it; it's more on the cognitive side of things.

The topic was digital noise reduction (DNR) and we spent most of it talking about effortfulness, which I imagine most of us on this forum have a painfully intimate knowledge of. (It's the opposite of "effortlessness" and refers to how hard you need to work mentally to compensate for a hearing loss.)

The post is at and two things that stood out for me:
  • intelligibility scores are not a measure of effortfulness; you might understand 100% of the words said because you can hear them easily, or you might understand 100% of the words said because your brain is churning furiously to decrypt the 60% you've heard, and you're a good guesser. This seems to be a fairly recent area of research -- instead of looking at intelligibility, what if we look at secondary task performance? ("how much extra mental bandwidth do you have to devote to doing things with the material vs trying to understand it being communicated?") For instance, DNR seems to improve an adult's ability to learn novel words (but not kids below age 10), which may be interesting to the polyglots here. Potentially useful ammo for advocating for assistive services when people go "but you cope so WELL you can LIPREAD and understand what I'm SAYING perfectly FINE!" (Yeah, but it's grueling.)
  • pupil dilation is one measure of effortfulness. (My boyfriend has told me that my eyes take on a certain look when I'm concentrating very, very hard on understanding something, but couldn't figure out exactly what it was that gave him the "ok, help adjust things for Mel" cue -- I think this might be it.)
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