PhD Studentship (NIHR NHBRU) The Contribution of Cognition to Speech Perception in New Hearing Aid Users Across Time (Acclimatisation)

Supervisors: Melanie Ferguson, Dr Helen Henshaw, Dr Antje Heinrich, Dr Heather Fortnum

Stipend of £15,000 per annum. All fees paid. Start date is between April and October 2014.

The evidence to show that aided speech perception and self-report of hearing aid benefit improves across time, generally referred to as acclimatisation, is mixed. Although hearing aids improve audibility, this alone is not associated with improved aided speech perception. Over the last decade there has been an increasing awareness of the role of cognition in speech perception and listening. It has been also suggested that cognition may be a factor in acclimatisation, although only a few studies have looked at this. One study suggests that greater improvements in aided speech perception are shown for younger individuals who had greater cognitive abilities.

Cognition declines with age, and the average first-time hearing aid user is over 70 years old. Auditory training is a complimentary intervention that aims to improve auditory function through active engagements with sounds. Cognitive training involves the development of targeted cognitive skills through gameplay. Although a number of studies have looked at the benefits of auditory training for existing hearing aid users, much less research has focused on the benefits of cognitive training or the benefits of a combined auditory or cognitive training regimen for first-time hearing aid users.

The first strand of this project will investigate how speech perception is associated with cognitive capacity in first-time hearing aid users. It will also assess how the relationship between speech perception and cognition changes over time as individuals acclimatise to their hearing aids. A second strand will assess whether providing auditory-cognitive training at the point of hearing aid provision can provide additional benefit to first-time hearing aid users in terms of either speeding up adaptation to their new hearing aids, providing additional incremental benefits to speech perception abilities, or both.

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You should have, or expect to obtain, a first class or upper 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent), or an MSc/MA, in psychology, audiology, or other relevant science discipline. You will have excellent communication and team-working skills, and be self-driven and highly motivated. You should also be eligible to apply for relevant research clearances that may be required including a check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB checks).

To apply, send a CV with a covering letter to

Informal enquiries may be also addressed to Melanie Ferguson via email or Tel: +44 (0) 115 823 2619.

Please quote ref. MED/1233

Closing Date: 10th January 2014

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