SUN (Speech Understanding in Noise)

We need it every day…

The earlier sign of an initial hearing impairment in adults is the difficulty to understand speech in noise or challenging situations, such as crowded places, streets, at a dinner or a party. The Senti – SUN test includes a fast and automated speech‑in‑noise procedure specifically designed to test hearing ability.

Usually, PTA is performed by using an audiometer in the form of a tabletop unit. Sentiero provides audiometer facilities in the form of a handheld device meeting all demands of a basic diagnostic audiometer of class 3 according to DIN IEC 60645-1.

… and it’s easy to test
Short test time – The test procedure presents a short sequence of speech stimuli in background noise. SUN scores the number of correctly identified stimuli and determines whether hearing ability is within or below the normal range. The test time per ear is less than 1 min.

Direct and easy interactions – For each stimulus in the test sequence, SUN provides three alternative responses and the subject directly selects the perceived stimulus by touching the screen. The procedure is easy, fast, and enjoyable. The test does not require specific memory or reading skills, and is suitable for adults of any age.

Test reliability – The test proved to be robust for use in non‑clinical settings, and does not necessarily require interaction with a tester. Results of a large population study confirm that the test outcomes are highly correlated with standard audiological measures.

Test method description

SUN is a novel self-controlled speech in noise test designed for screening adults and older adults for hearing disability using a set of intervocalic consonants (VCVs) (see Paglialonga A., Tognola G., Grandori F. 2011. SUN test (Speech Understanding in Noise): a method for hearing disability screening. Audiology Research 1:e13). The test aims at logatome recognition, specifically at the identification of consonants and hence at the early assessment of age-related hearing loss. The test is fully automated using a three-alternative forced choice procedure in which three alternative VCVs (e.g., aFa, aGa, aSa) from a set of 12 items are displayed on a touch screen. VCVs are presented via headphones at different signal-to-noise ratios. Test person has to select the correct item from the screen. The test gives a tri-modal outcome: hearing ability within normal range (score ≥ 9/12), hearing ability might be below the normal range (score equal to 7 or 8), hearing ability well below the normal range ≤6/12).

Otoscopy should be done prior to the test to determine if there are any blockages in the ear canal due to ear wax. Before the test, the subject has to be instructed about the task. As SUN is a psycho-acoustical test method the ability, willingness, and concentration of the subject to co-operate are essential. Also, proper placement of the transducers and low ambient noise conditions are important for a reliable outcome.

Preliminary findings of a study on more than 1000 subjects suggests SUN to be suited for adult hearing screening because test time is short (2 minutes on average), cognitive load is low, and acceptability of test persons is high.

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