Researchers examine how high frequencies benefit speech perception. Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments is a common sign of age-related hearing loss. To determine whether extended high-frequency (EHF) hearing, beyond the clinically tested range, contributes to hearing speech in noise, Lina Motlagh Zadeh and colleagues recruited 116 adults aged 18 to 65 years with clinically normal hearing. Of these listeners, 74 individuals had EHF hearing loss and 39 individuals reported difficulty following a conversation in background noise, such as from a TV or radio. EHF hearing loss was related to self-reported difficulty in speech perception amid noise. Sixty of the 116 listeners were tested with a digits-in-noise (DIN) test, which is used to measure speech-in-noise hearing. These listeners had better DIN hearing thresholds when noise did not mask EHF information. Although healthy people in their 20s can typically hear tones up to at least 20 kHz, diagnosis of hearing loss is currently based on testing the ability to hear frequencies up to 8 kHz. The findings suggest that EHF hearing loss contributes to difficulty hearing in noisy environments in individuals with otherwise normal hearing. Moreover, EHF hearing may be a predictor of age-related hearing loss at an early age when preventive measures may be effective, according to the authors.
Article #19-03315: "Extended high-frequency hearing enhances speech perception in noise," by Lina Motlagh Zadeh et al.
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