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Do hearing aids improve affect perception ?

Schmidt, J., Herzog, D., Scharenborg, O., & Janse, E. (2016). Do hearing aids improve affect perception? Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 894, 47-55. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-25474-6_6.
Normal-hearing listeners use acoustic cues in speech to interpret a speaker's emotional state. This study investigates the effect of hearing aids on the perception of the emotion dimensions arousal (aroused/calm) and valence (positive/negative attitude) in older adults with hearing loss. More specifically, we investigate whether wearing a hearing aid improves the correlation between affect ratings and affect-related acoustic parameters. To that end, affect ratings by 23 hearing-aid users were compared for aided and unaided listening. Moreover, these ratings were compared to the ratings by an age-matched group of 22 participants with age-normal hearing.For arousal, hearing-aid users rated utterances as generally more aroused in the aided than in the unaided condition. Intensity differences were the strongest indictor of degree of arousal. Among the hearing-aid users, those with poorer hearing used additional prosodic cues (i.e., tempo and pitch) for their arousal ratings, compared to those with relatively good hearing. For valence, pitch was the only acoustic cue that was associated with valence. Neither listening condition nor hearing loss severity (differences among the hearing-aid users) influenced affect ratings or the use of affect-related acoustic parameters. Compared to the normal-hearing reference group, ratings of hearing-aid users in the aided condition did not generally differ in both emotion dimensions. However, hearing-aid users were more sensitive to intensity differences in their arousal ratings than the normal-hearing participants.We conclude that the use of hearing aids is important for the rehabilitation of affect perception and particularly influences the interpretation of arousal
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