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Speech perception in noise in normally hearing children: does binaural frequency modulated fitting provide more benefit than monaural frequency modulated fitting?

DOI: 10.4081/audiores.2011.e30

Keywords: monaural , binaural , ear level frequency modulated system , speech in noise.

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Abstract:

The aim of the present study was to compare the benefit of monaural versus binaural ear-level frequency modulated (FM) fitting on speech perception in noise in children with normal hearing. Reception threshold for sentences (RTS) was measured in no-FM, monaural FM, and binaural FM conditions in 22 normally developing children with bilateral normal hearing, aged 8 to 9 years old. Data were gathered using the Pediatric Malay Hearing in Noise Test (P-MyHINT) with speech presented from front and multi-talker babble presented from 90o, 180o, 270o azimuths in a sound treated booth. The results revealed that the use of either monaural or binaural ear level FM receivers provided significantly better mean RTSs than the no-FM condition (P<0.001). However, binaural FM did not produce a significantly greater benefit in mean RTS than monaural fitting. The benefit of binaural over monaural FM varies across individuals; while binaural fitting provided better RTSs in about 50% of study subjects, there were those in whom binaural fitting resulted in either deterioration or no additional improvement compared to monaural FM fitting. The present study suggests that the use of monaural ear-level FM receivers in children with normal hearing might provide similar benefit as binaural use. Individual subjects’ variations of binaural FM benefit over monaural FM suggests that the decision to employ monaural or binaural fitting should be individualized. It should be noted however, that the current study recruits typically developing normal hearing children. Future studies involving normal hearing children with high risk of having difficulty listening in noise is indicated to see if similar findings are obtained.

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