Localization training results in individuals with unilateral severe to profound hearing loss

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Adults with unilateral hearing loss often demonstrate decreased sound localization ability and report that situations requiring spatial hearing are especially challenging. Few studies have evaluated localization abilities combined with training in this population. The present pilot study examined whether localization of two sound types would improve after training, and explored the relation between localization ability or training benefit and demographic factors. Eleven participants with unilateral severe to profound hearing loss attended five training sessions; localization cues gradually decreased across sessions. Localization ability was assessed pre- and post-training. Assessment stimuli were monosyllabic words and spectral and temporal random spectrogram sounds. Root mean square errors for each participant and stimulus type were used in group and correlation analyses; individual data were examined with ordinary least squares regression. Mean pre-to post-training test results were significantly different for all stimulus types. Among the participants, eight significantly improved following training on at least one localization measure, whereas three did not. Participants with the poorest localization ability improved the most and likewise, those with the best pre-training ability showed the least training benefit. Correlation results suggested that test age, age at onset of severe to profound hearing loss and better ear high frequency audibility may contribute to localization ability. Results support the need for continued investigation of localization training efficacy and consideration of localization training within rehabilitation protocols for individuals with unilateral severe to profound hearing loss.HighlightsAdults with unilateral hearing loss had improved localization ability after training.Participants' pre- and post-training localization abilities varied greatly.Post-training localization abilities varied less than pre-training localization abilities.Participants with the poorest localization ability improved the most from training.Further study of localization training is needed in this population.

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