Enriched acoustic environment rescales auditory sensitivity


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Abstract

Loudness perception may be controlled by a central gain, possibly dependent on the mean level of the acoustic environment. Owing to hearing loss, for instance, a decrease in sensory inputs could increase this central gain and cause an auditory hypersensitivity or hyperacusis. According to this model, individuals with hyperacusis, provided with an enriched acoustic environment specifically designed to compensate for the decrease in sensory inputs, should show an improvement in their hyperacusis. This study showed that such an enriched acoustic environment indeed decreased auditory hypersensitivity: stimuli initially considered as being too loud became comfortable after a few weeks of acoustic stimulation. Therefore, this original approach could provide a solution to the problem of hyperacusis.

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