Sound Localization of Listeners With Normal Hearing, Impaired Hearing, Hearing Aids, Bone-Anchored Hearing Instruments, and Cochlear Implants: A Review

Yunfang Zheng, Jacob Swanson, Janet Koehnke, Jianwei Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This review article reviews the contemporary studies of localization ability for different populations in different listening environments and provides possible future research directions. Conclusions: The ability to accurately localize a sound source relying on three cues (interaural time difference, interaural level difference, and spectral cues) is important for communication, learning, and safety. Confounding effects including noise and reverberation, which exist in common listening environments, mask or alter localization cues and negatively affect localization performance. Hearing loss, a common public health issue, also affects localization accuracy. Although hearing devices have been developed to provide excellent audibility of speech signals, less attention has been paid to preserving and replicating crucial localization cues. Unique challenges are faced by users of various hearing devices, including hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing instruments, and cochlear implants. Hearing aids have failed to consistently improve localization performance and, in some cases, significantly impair sound localization. Boneconduction hearing instruments show little to no benefit for sound localization performance in most cases, although some improvement is seen in binaural users. Although cochlear implants provide great hearing benefit to individuals with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss, cochlear implant users have significant difficulty localizing sound, even with two implants. However, technologies in each of these areas are advancing to reduce interference with desired sound signals and preserve localization cues to help users achieve better hearing and sound localization in real-life environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-834
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

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