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Changes in Orientation Behavior due to Extended High-Frequency (5 to 10 kHz) Spatial Cues

Whitmer, William M.; McShefferty, David; Levy, Suzanne C.; Naylor, Graham; Edwards, Brent

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Suzanne C. Levy

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Professor of Hearing Sciences

Brent Edwards


Current hearing aids have a limited bandwidth, which limits the intelligibility and quality of their output, and inhibits their uptake. Recent advances in signal processing, as well as novel methods of transduction, allow for a greater useable frequency range. Previous studies have shown a benefit for this extended bandwidth in consonant recognition, talker-sex identification, and separating sound sources. To explore whether there would be any direct spatial benefits to extending bandwidth, we used a dynamic localization method in a realistic situation.

Twenty-eight adult participants with minimal hearing loss reoriented themselves as quickly and accurately as comfortable to a new, off-axis near-field talker continuing a story in a background of far-field talkers of the same overall level in a simulated large room with common building materials. All stimuli were low-pass filtered at either 5 or 10 kHz on each trial. To further simulate current hearing aids, participants wore microphones above the pinnae and insert earphones adjusted to provide a linear, zero-gain response.

Each individual trajectory was recorded with infra-red motion-tracking and analyzed for accuracy, duration, start time, peak velocity, peak velocity time, complexity, reversals, and misorientations. Results across listeners showed a significant increase in peak velocity and significant decrease in start and peak velocity time with greater (10 kHz) bandwidth.

These earlier, swifter orientations demonstrate spatial benefits beyond static localization accuracy in plausible conditions; extended bandwidth without pinna cues provided more salient cues in a realistic mixture of talkers.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 9, 2021
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 9, 2021
Journal Ear & Hearing
Print ISSN 0196-0202
Electronic ISSN 1538-4667
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 2
Pages 545-553
Keywords Speech and Hearing; Otorhinolaryngology
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