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Title: Effects of dynamic-range compression in spatial hearing
Author: Wiggins, Ian Michael
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2013
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Dynamic-range compression is used in hearing devices to reduce the wide range of environmental sound levels into a range better suited to the capability of the impaired ear. Its use is motivated by the fact that the healthy ear itself performs this function, but this natural compression is typically reduced or lost with sensorineural hearing loss. This thesis explores how dynamic-range compression influences aspects of spatial hearing that play an important role in everyday listening. Spatial hearing largely relies on comparing information from the two ears. The first two experiments investigated how spatial perception is affected when compression is applied independently at each ear, as occurs in traditional bilateral hearing-device fittings. This was found to have a variety of possib le adverse effects, such as altering the perceived position of sounds and making them appear more spatially diffuse. The effects are explained in terms of changes to the underlying acoustic cues. Some modern hearing devices incorporate a wireless link, allowing compression to be synchronized across the ears. The third experiment investigated how this might provide an advantage when listening to speech in the presence of a spatially separated noise. It was found that a small to moderate benefit was obtained, compared to unlinked compression, and that this was realized th rough changes to the monaural signal at the ear that had the more favourable ratio of speech-to-noise energy. The fourth experiment tested whether the natural compression that occurs within the healthy cochlea directly affects the use of the relative level difference between the two ears as a spatial cue. Contrary to the experimental hypothesis, it was found that the potency of this cue changes little as the overall sound intensity is varied over a wide range, raising interesting questions about how this cue is evaluated at a neural level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available