Oticon Is First to Use Pupil Size to Measure Stress of Hearing in Noisy Environments

"Pupillometry" Shows How Breakthrough Hearing Aid Technology Reduces Listening Effort, Freeing up Cognitive Resources for Better Recall

SOMERSET, N.J.--()--Straining to hear in noise is stressful for everyone but especially for people with hearing loss. Leading hearing aid manufacturer Oticon is the first to apply proven "pupillometry" science - a measurement of pupil dilation - to the development of revolutionary hearing aid technology that both reduces listening effort and conserves energy so that people recall more of what they've heard.

In a just-released study, researchers at Eriksholm Research Centre and the VU University Medical Center set out to answer key questions such as how hard your brain has to work to understand speech in different environments and how that knowledge could be leveraged for use in new hearing devices. Their findings reinforce much of what is known about the impact of hearing loss and listening effort on cognition.

“When we pay attention to sound, the muscles in the eyes contract and release based on listening effort,” said Thomas Behrens, Head of Audiology and Director for the Centre for Applied Audiology Research at Oticon’s global headquarters in Denmark. “In our research, we showed how pupillometry could be used to measure strain on the brain’s processing power when trying to understand speech. The results of our research allowed Oticon, for the first time, to measure how breakthrough technology in our new Oticon Opn™ hearing aid not only reduces listening effort, it allows people to save energy so they can recall more of the conversation.”

According to Behrens, the more challenging the task, the larger the pupil. In looking into the eyes of Opn wearers as compared to Alta2 Pro hearing aids, the researchers saw 20 percent less listening effort when trying to understand speech while others are speaking. Additionally, they saw an average reduction in peak pupil dilation of 26 percent during the speech-noise reduction task using Opn compared to Alta2 Pro.

“The results for measuring peak pupil dilation were statistically significant (p=0.04), indicating a significant reduction in peak pupil dilation,” said Behrens, “these data demonstrate that Oticon’s Opn is the first hearing aid proven to make it easier for the brain, freeing up the cognitive resources for more recall.”

New Oticon Opn is available through hearing care professionals. Learn more here about Oticon Opn and its features and functionalities such as directly connecting to the internet via the If This Then That service.

About the Study on Cognitive Effort

The study, released by Oticon outlines the benefit of the noise reduction algorithm applied in hearing aids on the cognitive effort in people with a hearing impairment. Twenty-four hearing impaired listeners, with an average age of 59 years participated in the experiment which consisted of a set up to mimic a complex listening environment. The participants had mild-to-moderate-to severe symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss. The participants were asked to listen to HINT sentences presented in noise and repeat back the sentence after the presentation. The effect of noise reduction on the participant’s effort was tested while participants wore hearing aids with their respective noise reduction algorithm. The benefit of noise reduction was measured in two different hearing aids, Alta2 Pro and Opn, both manufactured by Oticon. Alta2 Pro uses a more conventional slow-acting, directionality-based system and Opn uses a new noise reduction algorithm. Pupil data were measured for 25 trials for each participant, with elimination of the first five trials for training purposes.

ABOUT OTICON

Oticon is one of the most innovative hearing device manufacturers with more than 110 years of experience putting the needs of people with hearing loss first. Oticon has spearheaded a number of technological breakthroughs which have made a significant difference for people with hearing loss. Oticon’s “brain first” audiological focus recognizes that speech understanding and comprehension are cognitive processes that happen in the brain. Oticon’s innovative BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. Oticon designs and manufactures hearing solutions for adults and specialized pediatric instruments. People First is Oticon’s strongest and most valued commitment to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate actively.

For more information visit: www.oticon.com.

Contacts

LaVoieHealthScience
Adra Darling or Kathy Vigneault, 617-374-8800 X105/X109
adarling@lavoiehealthscience.com
kvigneault@lavoiehealthscience.com

Contacts

LaVoieHealthScience
Adra Darling or Kathy Vigneault, 617-374-8800 X105/X109
adarling@lavoiehealthscience.com
kvigneault@lavoiehealthscience.com