Speech-In Noise Testing

What is a Speech-in-Noise Specialist?

A Speech-in-Noise Specialist has completed competency requirements to further evaluate how a patient hears in noise or difficult environments. Specialty tests that are not part of the routine audiometric evaluation are performed to give the Audiologist a broader understanding of how a patient’s hearing loss is impacting them.

For the cognitive portion of the specialty testing, our Audiologists use the Cognivue Thrive device, which is the only computerized cognitive assessment device based on FDA-cleared technology used by neurologists and other physicians for cognitive evaluation.

If you currently wear hearing devices, and still struggle to hear, this specialty testing could explain why.

How is the brain affected by in hearing loss?

MRI studies show even a mild amount of hearing loss can lead to shrinkage in the hearing areas of the brain, shifting the hearing function to other areas of the brain. This reorganizing of the brain makes your brain work harder than it should to hear and may play a role in cognitive decline and dementia.

MRI studies also show that with hearing loss, the eyes try to help what the ears are not hearing. This explains why many people report hearing better when they are looking at the person speaking.

Due to this strong interrelationship between hearing loss and cognition, the cognitive health assessment is a necessary supplement to our speech- in- noise assessment.

There are 3 fundamental processes needed to hear well and understand speech:

  • 1.The peripheral auditory system (your ear)
  • 2. The central auditory system (the hearing nerve and centers in the brain that process auditory input)
  • 3.Cognition (attention and memory – understanding content and storing and retrieving information)

When our Audiologists that specializes in speech-in-noise testing review the results of specialty hearing tests and cognitive tests, the best hearing treatment plan can be designed.

Selection of the most appropriate devices and the way that they process and alter the signal become important considerations, especially for our patients with low working memory capacity. Additionally, when there is a degree of cognitive impairment present, strategies and support that go beyond fitting hearing aids is provided.

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