Contribution of monaural and binaural cues to sound localization in listeners with acquired unilateral conductive hearing loss: Improved directional hearing with a bone-conduction device

Department of Biophysics, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Hearing research (Impact Factor: 2.85). 04/2012; 286(1-2):9-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.heares.2012.02.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sound localization in the horizontal (azimuth) plane relies mainly on interaural time differences (ITDs) and interaural level differences (ILDs). Both are distorted in listeners with acquired unilateral conductive hearing loss (UCHL), reducing their ability to localize sound. Several studies demonstrated that UCHL listeners had some ability to localize sound in azimuth. To test whether listeners with acquired UCHL use strongly perturbed binaural difference cues, we measured localization while they listened with a sound-attenuating earmuff over their impaired ear. We also tested the potential use of monaural pinna-induced spectral-shape cues for localization in azimuth and elevation, by filling the cavities of the pinna of their better-hearing ear with a mould. These conditions were tested while a bone-conduction device (BCD), fitted to all UCHL listeners in order to provide hearing from the impaired side, was turned off. We varied stimulus presentation levels to investigate whether UCHL listeners were using sound level as an azimuth cue. Furthermore, we examined whether horizontal sound-localization abilities improved when listeners used their BCD. Ten control listeners without hearing loss demonstrated a significant decrease in their localization abilities when they listened with a monaural plug and muff. In 4/13 UCHL listeners we observed good horizontal localization of 65 dB SPL broadband noises with their BCD turned off. Localization was strongly impaired when the impaired ear was covered with the muff. The mould in the good ear of listeners with UCHL deteriorated the localization of broadband sounds presented at 45 dB SPL. This demonstrates that they used pinna cues to localize sounds presented at low levels. Our data demonstrate that UCHL listeners have learned to adapt their localization strategies under a wide variety of hearing conditions and that sound-localization abilities improved with their BCD turned on.

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    • "The sound is affected before entering the inner ear in CHL2) and leads to some undesirable consequences. The acquired unilateral CHL reduces the ability to localize sound3) and the affected individuals' life quality.4) Moderate or even mild hearing loss could be a significant problem for school children5) because educational listening is not easy in the presence of background noise.2) Furthermore, a mild hearing loss in children may cause impairments in the development of communication, behavioral skills,6) learning ability,7) and speech.8) "
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    ABSTRACT: Conductive hearing loss is common among children and adults. This study aims at comparing the results of conductive hearing loss in summer and autumn. Puretone audiometry and tympanometry tests were done for all patients who referred to the Iranian-based audiology center of Imam Khomeini Hospital in Ahvaz. Data on the patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss were analyzed. The impacts of season, age, and etiology of the disease were analyzed on the patients who visited the audiology clinic due to the conductive hearing loss in summer and autumn. One hundred and fifty nine patients in summer and 123 patients in autumn had conductive or mixed hearing loss. Their age ranged from four to 82 years, with the average age of 35. The percentage of the patients, with acute otitis media and chronic otitis media (COM), who visited this clinic, was significantly higher than those with middle ear problems. COM and mastoid surgeries rate was higher in summer than autumn among adults. There is no relationship between season and middle ear diseases between children and juveniles, but COM and mastoid problems are more common in summer among adults visiting this clinic. Most of the patients had mild conductive hearing loss and bilateral middle ear impairments.
    Korean Journal of Audiology 04/2014; 18(1):13-18. DOI:10.7874/kja.2014.18.1.13
    • "Therefore, in the clinic, hearing aids are used in both ears. Although double hearing aids improve speech perception compared with only a single hearing aid, this is true only in quiet environments, and perception is still quite poor in noisy environments[12478]. In light of this, sounds in a complex auditory environment are likely localized by means of mechanisms other than the binaural sound-signal difference. "
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    ABSTRACT: The precedence effect is a prerequisite for faithful sound localization in a complex auditory environment, and is a physiological phenomenon in which the auditory system selectively suppresses the directional information from echoes. Here we investigated how neurons in the inferior colliculus respond to the paired sounds that produce precedence-effect illusions, and whether their firing behavior can be modulated through inhibition with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). We recorded extracellularly from 36 neurons in rat inferior colliculus under three conditions: no injection, injection with saline, and injection with gamma-aminobutyric acid. The paired sounds that produced precedence effects were two identical 4-ms noise bursts, which were delivered contralaterally or ipsilaterally to the recording site. The normalized neural responses were measured as a function of different inter-stimulus delays and half-maximal interstimulus delays were acquired. Neuronal responses to the lagging sounds were weak when the inter-stimulus delay was short, but increased gradually as the delay was lengthened. Saline injection produced no changes in neural responses, but after local gamma-aminobutyric acid application, responses to the lagging stimulus were suppressed. Application of gamma-aminobutyric acid affected the normalized response to lagging sounds, independently of whether they or the paired sounds were contralateral or ipsilateral to the recording site. These observations suggest that local inhibition by gamma-aminobutyric acid in the rat inferior colliculus shapes the neural responses to lagging sounds, and modulates the precedence effect.
    Neural Regeneration Research 02/2014; 9(4):420-9. DOI:10.4103/1673-5374.128250 · 0.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Factors likely to influence which adaptation strategy is used include the experience of the individual prior to the onset of hearing loss and the extent to which hearing is restored in the affected ear. It is conceivable, for example, that the ability to use binaural spatial cues, whether normal or abnormal, depends on normal binaural hearing during development (Seidl and Grothe, 2005; Grothe et al., 2010; Litovsky et al., 2010; Agterberg et al., 2012). Consequently, in the case of partial unilateral hearing loss, "
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    ABSTRACT: Under normal hearing conditions, comparisons of the sounds reaching each ear are critical for accurate sound localization. Asymmetric hearing loss should therefore degrade spatial hearing and has become an important experimental tool for probing the plasticity of the auditory system, both during development and adulthood. In clinical populations, hearing loss affecting one ear more than the other is commonly associated with otitis media with effusion, a disorder experienced by approximately 80% of children before the age of two. Asymmetric hearing may also arise in other clinical situations, such as after unilateral cochlear implantation. Here, we consider the role played by spatial cue integration in sound localization under normal acoustical conditions. We then review evidence for adaptive changes in spatial hearing following a developmental hearing loss in one ear, and show that adaptation may be achieved either by learning a new relationship between the altered cues and directions in space or by changing the way different cues are integrated in the brain. We next consider developmental plasticity as a source of vulnerability, describing maladaptive effects of asymmetric hearing loss that persist even when normal hearing is provided. We also examine the extent to which the consequences of asymmetric hearing loss depend upon its timing and duration. Although much of the experimental literature has focused on the effects of a stable unilateral hearing loss, some of the most common hearing impairments experienced by children tend to fluctuate over time. We therefore propose that there is a need to bridge this gap by investigating the effects of recurring hearing loss during development, and outline recent steps in this direction. We conclude by arguing that this work points toward a more nuanced view of developmental plasticity, in which plasticity may be selectively expressed in response to specific sensory contexts, and consider the clinical implications of this.
    Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 12/2013; 7:123. DOI:10.3389/fnsys.2013.00123
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