Neuromagnetic evaluation of a communication support system for hearing-impaired patients

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Hearing-impaired patients often encounter obstacles in communication. Not all of them wear hearing aids, citing issues with usage difficulty and discomfort in wearing. To overcome these difficulties, a new endeavor was started to improve sound intelligibility from the speaker’s side. The present study objectively evaluated an intelligible-hearing (IH) loudspeaker by means of magnetoencephalography. Magnetic counterparts of mismatch negativity (MMNm) to pronunciation (‘mi’ and ‘ni’) were recorded and compared when they were transmitted from the IH loudspeaker and from a normal-hearing loudspeaker. On using the IH loudspeaker, the peak latency was found to be significantly shortened. In the case of hearing-impaired participants, marked MMNm responses were observed only when the IH loudspeaker was used. These findings suggest that improving sound intelligibility may be a supportive and rehabilitative approach for hearing-impaired patients.

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