Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit

Nottingham, United Kingdom

Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit

Nottingham, United Kingdom
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Maslin M.R.D.,University of Manchester | Munro K.J.,University of Manchester | Lim V.K.,University of Auckland | Purdy S.C.,University of Auckland | Hall D.A.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit
NeuroReport | Year: 2013

There is growing evidence that auditory stimulation or deprivation can induce physiological and perceptual changes in the auditory system of normal hearing adults. The present study investigated cortical (hemispheric asymmetry) and subcortical (acoustic reflex threshold) changes in 11 normal hearing adults after 7 days of continuous unilateral earplug use (around 30 dB of attenuation at the high frequencies). The results revealed: (a) a decrease in high frequency acoustic reflex thresholds of around 7 dB in the ear that had been plugged and (b) no change in hemispheric asymmetry. The change in acoustic reflex is consistent with subcortical plasticity. It is unclear if homoeostatic plasticity preserved the normal hemispheric asymmetry or if this is the result of the experimental paradigm.

Gygi B.,Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System | Gygi B.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit | Shafiro V.,Rush University Medical Center
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research | Year: 2013

Purpose: Previously, Gygi and Shafiro (2011) found that when environmental sounds are semantically incongruent with the background scene (e.g., horse galloping in a restaurant), they can be identified more accurately by young normal-hearing listeners (YNH) than sounds congruent with the scene (e.g., horse galloping at a racetrack). This study investigated how age and high-frequency audibility affect this Incongruency Advantage (IA) effect. Method: In Experiments 1a and 1b, elderly listeners (N = 18 for 1a; N = 10 for 1b) with age-appropriate hearing (EAH) were tested on target sounds and auditory scenes in 5 sound-toscene ratios (So/Sc) between -3 and - 18 dB. Experiment 2 tested 11 YNH on the same sound-scene pairings lowpassfiltered at 4 kHz (YNH-4k). Results: The EAH and YNH-4k groups exhibited an almost identical pattern of significant IA effects, but both were at approximately 3.9 dB higher So/Sc than the previously tested YNH listeners. However, the psychometric functions revealed a shallower slope for EAH listeners compared with YNH listeners for the congruent stimuli only, suggesting a greater difficulty for the EAH listeners in attending to sounds expected to occur in a scene. Conclusions: These findings indicate that semantic relationships between environmental sounds in soundscapes are mediated by both audibility and cognitive factors and suggest a method for dissociating these factors. © American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Harmon A.C.,Northeastern University | Schlosser R.W.,Northeastern University | Gygi B.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit | Shane H.C.,Boston Childrens Hospital | And 4 more authors.
AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication | Year: 2014

Graphic symbols are a necessity for pre-literate children who use aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems (including non-electronic communication boards and speech generating devices), as well as for mobile technologies using AAC applications. Recently, developers of the Autism Language Program (ALP) Animated Graphics Set have added environmental sounds to animated symbols representing verbs in an attempt to enhance their iconicity. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of environmental sounds (added to animated graphic symbols representing verbs) in terms of naming. Participants included 46 children with typical development between the ages of 3;0 to 3;11 (years;months). The participants were randomly allocated to a condition of symbols with environmental sounds or a condition without environmental sounds. Results indicated that environmental sounds significantly enhanced the naming accuracy of animated symbols for verbs. Implications in terms of symbol selection, symbol refinement, and future symbol development will be discussed. © 2014 International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Moore D.R.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit | Moore D.R.,University of Nottingham | Moore D.R.,University of Cincinnati | Edmondson-Jones M.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Healthy hearing depends on sensitive ears and adequate brain processing. Essential aspects of both hearing and cognition decline with advancing age, but it is largely unknown how one influences the other. The current standard measure of hearing, the pure-tone audiogram is not very cognitively demanding and does not predict well the most important yet challenging use of hearing, listening to speech in noisy environments. We analysed data from UK Biobank that asked 40-69 year olds about their hearing, and assessed their ability on tests of speech-in-noise hearing and cognition.Methods and Findings: About half a million volunteers were recruited through NHS registers. Respondents completed 'whole-body' testing in purpose-designed, community-based test centres across the UK. Objective hearing (spoken digit recognition in noise) and cognitive (reasoning, memory, processing speed) data were analysed using logistic and multiple regression methods. Speech hearing in noise declined exponentially with age for both sexes from about 50 years, differing from previous audiogram data that showed a more linear decline from <40 years for men, and consistently less hearing loss for women. The decline in speech-in-noise hearing was especially dramatic among those with lower cognitive scores. Decreasing cognitive ability and increasing age were both independently associated with decreasing ability to hear speech-in-noise (0.70 and 0.89 dB, respectively) among the population studied. Men subjectively reported up to 60% higher rates of difficulty hearing than women. Workplace noise history associated with difficulty in both subjective hearing and objective speech hearing in noise. Leisure noise history was associated with subjective, but not with objective difficulty hearing.Conclusions: Older people have declining cognitive processing ability associated with reduced ability to hear speech in noise, measured by recognition of recorded spoken digits. Subjective reports of hearing difficulty generally show a higher prevalence than objective measures, suggesting that current objective methods could be extended further. © 2014 PLOS ONE.

Adjamian P.,University of Nottingham | Sereda M.,University of Nottingham | Zobay O.,University of Nottingham | Hall D.A.,Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit | Palmer A.R.,University of Nottingham
JARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology | Year: 2012

Tinnitus is an auditory phenomenon characterised by the perception of a sound in the absence of an external auditory stimulus. Chronic subjective tinnitus is almost certainly maintained via central mechanisms, and this is consistent with observed measures of altered spontaneous brain activity. A number of putative central auditory mechanisms for tinnitus have been proposed. The influential thalamocortical dysrhythmia model suggests that tinnitus can be attributed to the disruption of coherent oscillatory activity between thalamus and cortex following hearing loss. However, the extent to which this disruption specifically contributes to tinnitus or is simply a consequence of the hearing loss is unclear because the necessary matched controls have not been tested. Here, we rigorously test several predictions made by this model in four groups of participants (tinnitus with hearing loss, tinnitus with clinically normal hearing, no tinnitus with hearing loss and no tinnitus with clinically normal hearing). Magnetoencephalography was used to measure oscillatory brain activity within different frequency bands in a 'resting' state and during presentation of a masking noise. Results revealed that low-frequency activity in the delta band (1-4 Hz) was significantly higher in the 'tinnitus with hearing loss' group compared to the 'no tinnitus with normal hearing' group. A planned comparison indicated that this effect was unlikely to be driven by the hearing loss alone, but could possibly be a consequence of tinnitus and hearing loss. A further interpretative linkage to tinnitus was given by the result that the delta activity tended to reduce when tinnitus was masked. High-frequency activity in the gamma band (25-80 Hz) was not correlated with tinnitus (or hearing loss). The findings partly support the thalamocortical dysrhythmia model and suggest that slow-wave (delta band) activity may be a more reliable correlate of tinnitus than high-frequency activity. © 2012 Association for Research in Otolaryngology.

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