Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hearing aid signal not clear? Then switch frequency to FM


What gives radio better sound can help block out background noise, increase tonal recognition in many hearing devices

There’s a reason why we listen to music on the FM dial of our radios – it just sounds better than it does on AM.

And this reason also holds true for cochlear implants and hearing aids. UC Irvine School of Medicine researchers have found that improving frequency modulation, or FM, reception on cochlear implants and hearing aids may increase the quality of life for the millions of Americans who use these devices.

Dr. Fan-Gang Zeng and his colleagues at UCI and the Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing discovered that enhancing the detection of frequency modulation may significantly boost the performance of many hearing aids and automatic speech recognition devices by separating and blocking out background noise and increasing tonal recognition, which is essential to hearing music and certain spoken languages. Study results appear this week in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some 30 million Americans have some form of hearing loss, and some 4 million of these people benefit from using hearing aids or cochlear implants. But limitation on sound quality and overamplification of background sound can hinder their uses.

“Many hearing-aid – particularly cochlear-implant – users have trouble enjoying music or listening to conversation in a crowded room,” said Zeng, research director of the Hearing and Speech Lab at UCI. “But we’ve found that FM modifications to both existing and future devices may overcome these difficulties.”

Known as a leading expert in cochlear-implant research, Zeng and his colleagues looked into the reasons behind these limitations, specifically focusing on the two parameters of sound: amplitude (the height of a sound wave) and the frequency (the number of sound waves per unit of time).

Thirty-four normal-hearing and 18 cochlear-implant subjects participated in the study. They were tested on three speech-perception tasks known to be notoriously difficult for cochlear-implant users: speech recognition with a competing voice, speaker recognition and Mandarin-tone recognition. The researchers tested the amplitude modulation (AM) and FM from a number of frequency bands in speech sounds and tested the relative contributions to speech recognition in acoustic and electric hearing.

They found that AM works well in quiet environments but less well where background noise is present. In turn, FM enhances speech, tone and speaker recognition when other noise was present, and overall provided a better quality of tonal sound than AM does. Current cochlear implants extract only AM information, limiting significantly their performance under realistic listening situations.

These FM modifications, Zeng adds, can particularly assist Asians and Africans who speak tonal languages, such as Mandarin, in which tonal variations are vitally important. “As with your radio, music sounds better on the FM dial, and enhancing the FM reception on hearing devices can go a long way to helping people listen to and enjoy the beautiful music of their everyday lives in ways they’ve been unable to do,” Zeng said.

Kaibo Nie, Ginger S. Stickney, Ying-Yee Kong, Michael Vongphoe and Ashish Bhargave of UCI and Chaogang Wei and Keli Cao of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital assisted with the study. The National Institutes of Health and the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation provided support.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht High Number of Science Enthusiasts in Switzerland
05.02.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>