Innovative hearing technology from KU Leuven reliably measures the understanding of speech


KU Leuven has come up with new software that objectively and successfully measures how well young, hearing-impaired children understand natural speech based on brain waves.

The foundation for the development of language and speech is laid primarily in the first years of life. So it is crucial that this capacity to understand can be tested as early as possible. A hearing aid is inadequate for this purpose, as it amplifies the sound signal but it is difficult to determine whether speech is understood correctly. They are nevertheless very important when we know that some 5% of younger children suffer from temporary or permanent hearing loss.

The new technique from KU Leuven's Experimental Oto-, Rhino-, Laryngology (ExpORL) research group analyses brain activity while listening to natural speech in a child-friendly way and juxtaposes it with the sound file of the presented speech. The results are encouraging: the software guarantees a reliable prediction of speech understanding without the test subjects having to actively participate. Moreover, the method also provides information about the listening benefits that a hearing aid provides.

Audiologists at UZ Leuven and several rehabilitation centres in Flanders will subject this innovative hearing technology to an extensive clinical study. Only then can it be applied across the board.