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Listening Effort and Fatigue

Listening Effort and Fatigue

July 29, 2014 In the News

McGarrigle et al (2014) presented a discussion paper in the International Journal of Audiology in which they (the British Society of Audiology) query and explore the difference(s) between "listening effort" and "fatigue" associated with hearing loss.

They report that for people with normal hearing, everyday listening is more-or-less an effortless process, as the brain performs "backstage operations" to facilitate selective processing of the signal of interest, and simultaneous filtering of unwanted sounds. For people with hearing loss, listening (i.e., attributing meaning to sound, see Beck and Flexer, 2011) is far more taxing. Indeed, while listening with/through hearing loss, one is more likely to require additional cognitive resources which likely negatively impacts simultaneous mental processes (i.e., multi-tasking).

The authors note that their working definition of "listening effort" is "the mental exertion required to attend to, and understand, an auditory message." Whereas "fatigue" is "extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion." In particular, they note that "mental fatigue" results from "effortful listening," as is often experienced by people with hearing loss.

For More Information, References, and Recommendations

Beck DL, Flexer C. (2011) Listening Is Where Hearing Meets Brain…In Children and Adults. Hearing Review18(2):30-35.

McGArrigle R, Munro KJ, Dawes P, Stewart AJ, Moore DR, Barry JG, Amitay S. (2014) Listening Effort and Fatigue–What Exactly Are We Measuring? A British Society of Audiology Cognition in Hearing Special Interest Group ‘White Paper.’ International Journal of Audiology 53:433-445.

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