The Relationship Between Self-Perceived Hearing Ability and Listening-Related Fatigue


Background: Many adults experience hearing problems despite a diagnosis of normal hearing. An invalidation of self-perceived hearing problems can be emotionally distressing. Previous research describes a normal hearing test with perceived trouble understanding speech-in-noise as hearing difficulties (HD). Additionally, an individual's reported listening-related fatigue is associated more with their perceived HD than their degree of hearing loss. Recent studies investigated factors that contribute to deficits in speech-in-noise performance, a common symptom of HD. Specifically, adults with poorer working memory and poorer extended high-frequency (EHF) hearing exhibited poorer speech-in-noise performance than adults with better working memory and better EHF hearing. Purpose: The primary purpose of this thesis was to examine the relationship between auditory working memory, EHF thresholds, speech-in-noise performance, and the perception of one's HD. A secondary purpose was to understand the influence of listening-related fatigue, effort, and the perception of one's HD. By confirming auditory deficits via clinical test results, individuals can be counseled and treated more effectively. Methods: Participants were 17 adults (ages 18 – 58 years of age, 3 males, 14 females) with normal to "near normal hearing" as defined by Moore et al. (2012). Self-perceived HD were determined by the Adult Auditory Performance Scale (AAPS; Roup et al., 2021). The Word Auditory Recognition and Recall Measure (WARRM; Smith et al., 2016) was used to evaluate auditory working memory. Listening-related fatigue was assessed with the Vanderbilt Fatigue Scale for Adults (VFS-A; Hornsby et al., 2021) and listening effort was evaluated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (NASA-TLX; Hart & Staveland, 1988) in order to assess their potential relationship with self-perceived HD. Results: Results revealed significant correlations between self-reported HD and listening-related fatigue for the total and cognitive domain VFS-A scores. Specifically, adults with greater degrees of HD also reported greater degrees of listening-related fatigue. In addition, results revealed that listening-related fatigue and listening effort (i.e., mental demand) were significantly correlated, meaning when adults experienced greater listening-related fatigue from auditory situations, they had to exert more effort. Of the auditory tests administered, participants reported that pure-tone detection required much less effort than the other auditory tasks. This illustrates that the typical hearing test is a relatively low effort task that does not compare to the everyday auditory situations of adults' lives. Conclusions: Results from the present study suggest that it is essential to employ more rigorous tests of auditory function that are more representative of everyday listening (e.g., auditory and cognitive resources) to more accurately assess an individual's hearing ability and validate their self- perception of HD.No embargoAcademic Major: Speech and Hearing Scienc

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