Immediate Effects of Personal Sound Amplification Products on Speech Processing

  • End date
    Aug 30, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest
Updated on 12 October 2022


Mild to moderate hearing loss remains undertreated, largely because of the high cost of hearing aids. A promising and much less expensive alternative is the use of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), which are electronic, portable, over-the-counter devices that amplify sound. Studies have shown that the use of PSAPs provides significant hearing benefits and improves the quality of life for older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. However, there is insufficient data to determine the impact of PSAPs use on speech processing in the brain.

The purpose of this study is to use electroencephalography (EEG) measurements to assess the neurobiological and behavioral effects of PSAPs on speech perception in noise in individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss.

The investigators expect that the PSAPs use will result in an immediate improvement in the ability to perceive speech-in-noise, supporting that these hearing devices may be a means of restoring communication skills in people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Behavioral benefits will be associated with increased brain activity in auditory regions and connectivity between auditory and speech regions in the brain.


This study will consist of two sessions of 3 hours each. On one session, participants will perform the speech-in-noise task without hearing devices and on the other session, participants will perform the speech-in-noise task while wearing personal sound amplification products. The order of the sessions will be counterbalanced across participants. The speech-in-noise task consists in a word discrimination task in babble noise at three signal-to-noise ratios. On each trial, the task is to determine whether two words are identical or different.

Condition Hearing Loss, Age-Related
Treatment Personal sound amplification products
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05076045
SponsorRotman Research Institute at Baycrest
Last Modified on12 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria


Exclusion Criteria

Mother tongue not English
Language impairment
Cerebrovascular diseases
Untreated vision impairment
Tinnitus and otologic disorders
Cochlear implant
History of prior hearing aid use
Diagnosed addiction (alcohol or drugs)
Significant medical or neurocognitive conditions or interventions likely to significantly impact cognitive function (e.g., epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury with loss of consciousness > 5 minutes, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, developmental delay, electroconvulsive therapy)
a diagnosis (based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)) of major depressive disorder with active symptoms within 90 days of study entry, past or present psychosis, or other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder
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