Scalable Software Solutions for Widespread Aural Rehabilitation

Dennis Barbour
Washington University in St. Louis

Abstract: Approximately 36 million American adults, 1 in 10, report some degree of hearing loss, making it the most common neurological disorder. Modern interventions that effectively treat hearing loss include digital hearing aids and cochlear implants. These devices are currently advanced enough to functionally correct deficiencies in hearing under idealized acoustic conditions in many if not most patients. Unfortunately, no real-world scenario is ideal due to near-ubiquitous background sounds. As a consequence, improved hearing does not always translate to improved listening. Fortunately, listening is a skill that can be trained, but a critical problem facing nearly all auditory training endeavors is a general lack of transfer of trained skills far beyond the training set. The long-term goal of our research is to leverage innovative technological and procedural advances toward the creation of an auditory training regimen capable of improving listening skills for auditory prosthetic wearers. This intervention takes the form of automated training methods packaged into portable electronic games.These games incorporate a variety of listening conditions and gameplay elements that deliver training material in formats shown to be effective in cognitive and motor learning applications. Much of this talk will describe the rationale behind design decisions for the platform that will ultimately implement this training in large populations.

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