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Understanding Speech Perception

Hearing loss, especially high frequency hearing loss, can diminish our ability to understand speech and recognize words. Here’s how…

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The cochlea is located in a spiral cavity in the inner ear.
It's lined with sensory hair cells that produce nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations.
The cochlea is arranged tonotopically, like a piano keyboard. Low frequencies are processed at the apical region, or center of the cochlea while higher frequencies are processed at the basal region, or outer edge.
In fact, if the cochlea was straightened out, it would function a bit like a piano keyboard.
Phonetical speech components, known as phonemes, also have different frequencies. Hearing these different frequencies is critical to speech perception and sound clarity.

Intelligibility

This is what healthy hearing sounds like.

High Frequency Hearing Loss

(Diminished Speech Perception)

People lose sensory hair cells over time, due to common factors such as age and noise.

This means losing the ability to hear and distinguish between high frequency consonants, like t and s, leading to the loss of speech perception.
This is what that same sentence sounds like with high frequency hearing loss.
Hearing aids help by making sounds louder.

But amplifying high frequency sounds doesn't help without hair cells to receive them.
Regenerating sensory hair cells may restore clarity that leads to hearing intelligibility.

Words in Noise

For people with high frequency hearing loss, background noise makes speech perception more difficult.
Hearing aids amplify background noise as well as speech which makes everything louder...
Regenerating sensory hair cells may restore clarity and speech perception, even in noise.

Improving Speech Perception

Regenerating sensory hair cells may restore clarity and intelligibility, even in noise, which may lead to improved speech perception.