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Exploring audio-motor integration: a novel approach to overcoming hearing impairment

English title Exploring audio-motor integration: a novel approach to overcoming hearing impairment
Applicant Hervais-Adelman Alexis
Number 206155
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Psychologisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.03.2022 - 29.02.2024
Approved amount 799'919.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Psychology
Neurophysiology and Brain Research

Keywords (6)

Transcranial Electrical Stimulation ; Auditory Processing; Speech Comprehension; Electroencephalography; Degraded Speech; Hearing Impairment

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Le système de compréhension de la parole possède une capacité de compensation pour les dégradations acoustiques auxquelles fait face la parole que nous entendons tous les jours. Malgré les bruits de fond, la présence de voix concurrentes, les échos, les accents, ou bien encore les appels téléphoniques avec un réseau inadéquat, la plupart des humains sont capables de comprendre leurs interlocuteurs sans effort apparent.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

Les troubles auditifs représentent une source de perturbation du son que nous percevons. Ceux-ci entraînent des difficultés de compréhension de la parole, car le signal sonore atteignant le système cérébral langagier est dégradé. Pour les personnes atteintes de tels troubles, les mécanismes de compensation qui permettent de "reconstituer" le sens de la parole des interlocuteurs sont d'autant plus essentiels.

Lorsque nous sommes confrontés à de la parole qui est acoustiquement troublée, le cerveau recrute d'avantage de ressources cognitives afin d'en décrypter le contenu. Plusieurs études ont démontrent que ce processus engagerait, entre-autre, le système de production de la parole. Le lien entre la production et la perception est postulé depuis l'ère d'Aristote, mais son existence et sa nature demeurent controversées. Ce projet a pour but d'élucider ce lien, non seulement par intérêt théorique, mais afin de développer des interventions cognitives qui permettront de renforcer la compréhension de la parole chez les personnes souffrant de troubles auditifs.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

L'organisation mondiale de la santé estime que plus 5% de la population mondiale souffre de déficiences auditives incapacitantes, et qu'un tiers des personnes de plus de 65 ans sont touchées par une perte d'audition incapacitante. Les troubles auditifs représentent un problème croissant et de plus en plus coûteux pour la société - environs 1,1 milliard de jeunes âgés de 12 à 35 ans risquent une déficience auditive par exposition au bruit dans un cadre récréatif. Le coût annuel à l'échelle mondiale de déficiences auditives non prises en charge est de 750 milliards de dollars. Ainsi, le développement de nouvelles interventions exploitant les dernières théories et méthodes pourra avoir d'importants bienfaits non seulement pour la qualité de vies des personnes touchées par les déficiences auditives, mais aussi pour la société.



Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.11.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
163726 Exploring audio-motor integration: a novel approach to overcoming hearing impairment 01.03.2018 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that 430 million people suffer from hearing impairment requiring rehabilitation services, a figure projected to rise to more than 700 million by 2050. A major consequence of hearing impairment is reduced speech comprehension ability, in particular in acoustically challenging conditions, such as noisy or reverberant environments. The impact of the perceptual difficulties experienced by hearing-impaired individuals is substantial and is associated with serious public health consequences. It has been shown that even moderate hearing impairment is associated with lower levels of physical activity, higher incidence of depression, and cognitive decline. Indeed, hearing impairment has been highlighted as the largest potentially modifiable risk factor for the incidence of dementia. At present, there are no treatments to reverse hearing loss, other than technological interventions - namely, auditory prostheses. These primarily fall into two categories: hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs). HAs are helpful to many users although satisfaction varies widely and is subject to external factors, such as perceived social support. CIs can restore the sense of hearing to profoundly deaf individuals and are the most successful sensory prosthesis in use today, but also show varied outcomes.Although enormous strides have been made, and continue to be made, in improving the quality of these devices (for example in implementation of noise suppression algorithms), theoretical benefits in laboratory listening conditions do not always translate to real-world listening situations and substantial individual differences in device satisfaction and hearing outcomes remain. It is widely believed that these differences are, to a large extent, mediated by inter-individual differences in cognitive factors. Influential models of degraded speech comprehension posit that cognitive capacities such as working memory, attentional control and cognitive resource allocation have a substantial role to play in determining robustness of speech perception. This cognitive "last mile" in speech perception cannot be eliminated and may be a worthwhile locus for interventions that seek to improve speech comprehension outcomes for individuals who suffer from hearing impairment.Speech perception is, in general, very robust in the face of acoustically-challenging listening conditions. Characterising the mechanisms that enable comprehension under sub-optimal listening conditions (including sensory degradation imposed by hearing impairment of CIs) will provide the basis for developing interventions that can help hearing impaired listeners to exploit the cognitive mechanisms that they already have at their disposal to maximise their speech comprehension under day-to-day listening conditions. However appealing the prospect of training domain-general skills in order to induce improvements in speech comprehension under adverse conditions, such transfer effects are not yet attested. A more direct approach could be to focus on the known neural substrates of degraded speech perception and the top-down mechanisms that contribute to speech comprehension in adverse listening conditions and to bolster these.This project seeks to lay the foundations of such approaches. In one sub-project by investigating the relationship between prestimulus brain states and degraded speech comprehension, with a view to elucidating brain states that are propitious for degraded speech processing, thus providing targets for future neurofeedback-based training protocols. In a second it will examine the role of top-down contributions to degraded speech comprehension and examine the potential for non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation of articulatory motor cortices to boost speech in noise comprehension. Ultimately, the basic research proposed will improve our understanding of the cerebral basis of speech processing and pave the way for the development of novel interventions that can help improve quality of life by supporting barrier-free communication for individuals with hearing impairment.
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