Kognitive Belastung und HöranstrengungCognitive load and listening effort

Cognitive load and listening effort

Cognitive load during speech recognition

 In acoustically challenging communication situations, not only hearing ability, but also cognitive functions such as attention or working memory are of importance. Various studies have shown relationships between cognitive capacity and speech recognition. Older adults frequently do not only suffer from hearing impairment, but cognitive performance is also subject to decline. This causes extra problems for older people to communicate in demanding situations – for instance, when several persons speak simultaneously.


Our research in this area attempts to identify cognitive functions that are important for different communication situations. This includes, for example, the investigation of different functions of memory and attention using speech audiometric methods. We are also interested in how technical rehabilitation of hearing (hearing aids and cochlear implants) interacts with the cognitive capacity of users.



Selected publications:



Meister H, Schreitmüller S, Ortmann M, Rählmann S, Walger M. Effects of Hearing Loss and Cognitive Load on Speech Recognition with Competing Talkers. Front Psychol. 2016 Mar 4;7:301. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00301


Meister H, Schreitmüller S, Grugel L, Beutner D, Walger M, Meister I.
Examining speech perception in noise and cognitive functions in the elderly. Am J
Audiol. 2013 Dec;22(2):310-2

Meister H, Schreitmüller S, Grugel L, Ortmann M, Beutner D, Walger M, Meister IG. Cognitive resources related to speech recognition with a competing talker in young and older listeners. Neuroscience. 2013 Mar 1;232:74-82.




Assessment of listening effort


Listening effort can be defined as the subjective expenditure necessary to understand speech. Even if speech intelligibility is near perfect, under adverse acoustic situations, it may be difficult to follow a conversation. The idea is that increased cognitive resources for otherwise largely automated and effortless speech perception are then needed.


In principle, this gives the potential to further measures, for example, to the purpose of the evaluation of hearing aid or cochlear implant provision. However, a generally useful measure of listening effort has not yet been established.



Our investigations focus on various subjective and objective measures: we examine simple rating scales, but also more complex dual task methods or physiological measures, such as electrodermal activity in terms of its potential to assess listening effort.



Selected publications:


Ortmann M, Rählmann S,Walger M, Meister H: EDA (Hautleitwert) als Maß für Höranstrengung? DGMP-Jahrestagung Köln, 18.9.-21.9.2013



Igelmund P, Meister H, Brockhaus-Dumke A, Fürstenberg D, von Wedel H, Walger M (2009) P300 and reaction time as measures of hearing effort of CI users during sound discrimination in noise DGA Jahrestagung 2009, Innsbruck, Z. Audiol.




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