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Introduction: Individuals with sensorineural (SN) hearing loss required larger signal to noise ratio (SNR) to understand target speech when compared to normal hearing (Turner, Fabry, Barrett & Horwitz, 1992). The reduced performance for perception of speech in noise by individuals with SN hearing loss can be partly attributed to the poor F0 based stream segregation (Rose and Moore, 2000). F0 based stream segregation ability can be assessed by measuring the difference limen for F0 (F0DL). F0DL is the minimal difference between the fundamental frequencies (F0) of two complex tones, to perceive these two tones as different. F0DL is affected in individuals with SN hearing loss due to poor auditory frequency resolution (Bernstien & Oxenham, 2006). Need for the study: SN hearing loss affects the hearing sensitivity differentially in different spectral region which might lead to poor F0DL (Moore, Glasberg & Hopkins, 2006). Multi-channel hearing aids are primary choice for compensating the frequency specific loss in SN hearing loss. Multi-channel hearing aids provide more amplification at high frequencies and less amplification at low frequencies thereby affecting the overall spectral shape of the input stimulus. There are dearth of studies evaluating the effect of hearing aid amplification on F0DL. Aim: To investigate the effect of multi-channel hearing aid processing on F0DL. Method: 10 ears from 6 subjects (5 females, 1 male, ages 25- 80 yrs, mean age = 58.5 yrs) were considered for the experiment. All subjects had hearing loss ranging from mild to moderately severe degree. F0 of the standard harmonic stimulus was 250Hz. DLs were measured using an adaptive three-interval, three-alternative forced-choice method with two-down one-up procedure. In two of the intervals, the frequency (f0) of the stimulus was the same, while in the third, the frequency (f0) was higher. The task of the subject was to select the observation interval containing the higher frequency. Stimuli were processed using multi-channel hearing processing in MATLAB. F0DLs were estimated in unaided, 3 and 5 channel hearing aid processing conditions. Result: One-way ANOVA with repeated measures revealed a significant the main effect of hearing aid processing on F0DL (F(1,9)= 70.7550, p<0.001). Post hoc comparisons with bonferroni’s correction revealed that, 3-channel hearing aid processing resulted in significantly better F0DL than unaided processing and 5-channel processing condition (<0.05). Conclusion: Three channel hearing aid processing had positive effect on F0DL. However, increasing the number of channels to 5 resulted in negative effect.
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