Dynamic relation between working memory capacity and speech recognition in noise during the first 6 months of hearing aid use.Trends Hear. 2014 Nov 23; 18TH
The present study aimed to investigate the changing relationship between aided speech recognition and cognitive function during the first 6 months of hearing aid use. Twenty-seven first-time hearing aid users with symmetrical mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss were recruited. Aided speech recognition thresholds in noise were obtained in the hearing aid fitting session as well as at 3 and 6 months postfitting. Cognitive abilities were assessed using a reading span test, which is a measure of working memory capacity, and a cognitive test battery. Results showed a significant correlation between reading span and speech reception threshold during the hearing aid fitting session. This relation was significantly weakened over the first 6 months of hearing aid use. Multiple regression analysis showed that reading span was the main predictor of speech recognition thresholds in noise when hearing aids were first fitted, but that the pure-tone average hearing threshold was the main predictor 6 months later. One way of explaining the results is that working memory capacity plays a more important role in speech recognition in noise initially rather than after 6 months of use. We propose that new hearing aid users engage working memory capacity to recognize unfamiliar processed speech signals because the phonological form of these signals cannot be automatically matched to phonological representations in long-term memory. As familiarization proceeds, the mismatch effect is alleviated, and the engagement of working memory capacity is reduced.