Stanford University

Listening effort depends on acoustic cues the brain uses for sound segregation and selective attention


Fri, 11/11/2016 – 10:30am12:00pm


CCRMA Seminar Room

Event Type: 

Hearing Seminar

There are many cues in our acoustic environment that we integrate to help us understand the world around us. One of the most important sources of information are spatial cues. Sources that we wish to distinguish are often spatially separated, and sounds that we want to integrate almost always come from a single direction. But what happens when the cues are conflicting?  This might happen with bad stereo reproduction, or with bad hearing aids. 

Dr. Jing Xia, a recent graduate of Boston University and now a researcher at Starkey Research in Berkeley will be here to talk about her work in understanding the effort to perceive signals where the spatial cues are broken or misleading. Her work uses listening effort to understand the effect, and includes MEG data.

Who: Dr. Jing Xia (Starkey)
What: Listening effort depends on acoustic cues the brain uses for sound segregation and selective attention
When: Friday November 11, 2016 at 10:30AM
Where: CCRMA Seminar Room
Why: Because we often play fast and loose with the spatial cues, and that comes with a cost.

From a hearing-science perspective, listening effort provides a meaningful dimension to evaluate a listening experience. If listening in everyday activities frequently demands a lot of effort, a listener may develop chronic stress and withdraw from social interactions. I will focus on the question of whether listening effort can be improved by reducing the perceived difference in talkers’ location and the source of the voice. This is important when the listener has to segregate and selectively attend to the target talker in a complicated environment. I will start with a brief review of the factors that may impose listening effort as well as the methods that have been used to measure listening effort. Then I will compare those two sorts of cues on their effect on reducing listening effort. I will discuss the experimental design and the measurement method of two studies that support opposite conclusions. The difference between location and voice cues in attention- and effort-related auditory processing will be further revealed by a magnetoencephalography study.



Jing Xia is a research scientist at Starkey Hearing Research Center. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University, M.S and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from South China University of Technology. Her research interest is in the effects of hearing loss, age, and cognition on listeners’ spatial hearing ability.

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