Brain-Inspired Jointly Optimal Hearing Loss Compensation and Noise Reduction for Hearing Assistive Devices

Postdoc Researcher: Adel Zahedi

Supervisors: Jan Østergaard, Michael S. Pedersen, Thomas U. Christiansen, Lars Bramsløw, Jesper Jensen

Support: Innovation Fund Denmark

One of the greatest challenges of hearing aid technology is to provide the same level of comfort for hearing aid users as normal-hearing individuals in noisy situations. For this reason, hearing loss compensation through amplification (as the basic idea behind hearing aids) and noise reduction are the most fundamental building blocks of modern hearing aids. In a typical hearing aid, noise reduction is performed using signal processing techniques, while hearing loss compensation relies on industry standards. Both techniques have independently evolved over decades with the underlying assumption that the overall system resulting from the serial of these two blocks will function optimally, given that the two blocks are each optimal. Such an approach is obviously oblivious to the interactions between the two blocks and their effects on the final output delivered to the user. The objective of this project is to take account of these interactions in order to optimize the overall output. In other words, instead of two independent blocks that each optimizes its own local output, we focus on a design where both blocks (co)operate in a manner that the overall output is optimal in a certain sense. We start from well-known measures such as speech intelligibility as the optimality criterion, but as the project progresses, we will integrate more brain-inspired measures to assure a design that more closely follows the brains rationale for making sense of sound. We plan to test and verify the developed techniques using extensive listening tests on normal-hearing as well as hearing-impaired individuals.