TA-6: Making Listening Effort Visible in the Lab and in the Clinic


People with hearing loss often need to mentally fill words that are misperceived, at the cost of increased effort that can go unnoticed on an audiogram and unnoticed in conversation. In clinics and in labs, speech recognition is scored as percent correct, which overlooks the effort involved in hearing. Effort that persists in the moments after a sentence is over could impair perception of the next sentence, derailing an entire conversation. This presentation will review recent studies that help to understand the source of listening effort and how long it lasts.

There are three takeaway messages for this talk: 1) even when a verbal response is correct, effort is increased when the listener needed to mentally repair a missed word. 2) the effort resulting from that mental repair carries forward to impair perception of later words, and 3) that increased effort is not detectable in the voice of the listener as they give verbal responses. These studies provide physiological evidence of dynamic changes in listening effort, but more importantly offer a paradigm for revealing this pattern behaviorally in any clinic.

Learning objectives

After attending this presentation, the learner will be able to:

  1. identify and describe different contributions to listening effort
  2. explain the ways that effort can be measured
  3. confirm with a patient that there is understanding of how effort affects listening
  4. understand how effort can go unnoticed on clinical assessments