Given our understanding of how hearing aids (HAs) function and the benefits they provide by spectrally tailoring acoustic stimuli to the individual user, two assumptions can be made.

First, hard of hearing (HH) individuals with a HA use history should have sufficient auditory access to the speech signal when adequately fitted and using their HAs. Second, that those same individuals should have the ability to detect syntactic incongruities when aided.

This study’s first purpose was to support the assumption that HAs sufficiently restore enough spectral detail to allow for the comprehension of speech and identify syntactic errors within that speech.

The second was to provide evidence that analysis of the P600, a late-occurring event-related potential, the presence of which indicates syntactic cognitive processing, could be used as the objective tool to assess the efficacy and benefit of HAs.

It was hypothesized that HH individuals would have P600 responses only with the use of their HAs and that the brain would not be able to correct or supplement missing information in the absence of the appropriate acoustic signals. Results showed that the P600 was only present in the aided condition and in response to sentences with incorrect syntax structures.

This supported the assumption that HAs provide sufficient spectral detail and the hypothesis that the brain would not be able to supplement missing syntactic information, even in peri- and postlingually deafened adults.

Though only based on data gathered from a tiny sample size (N=6), the study was able to accomplish both objectives. However, further research is needed to determine if there is a more practical clinical utility for the analysis of the P600.

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ERPs and Syntactic Processing: Investigating Hearing Aid Efficacy in Restoring Auditory Access to Hard of Hearing Adults


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