New Study Examines How Face Masks Affect Speech Recognition in Background Noise

Researchers at Villanova University found that in low levels of background noise (for the purposes of recognizing spoken sentences immediately after presentation), face masks have a small effect related to speech production without a mask, and some masks have no effect. In high levels of background noise, the effects of different mask types become more apparent.

Homemade cloth masks and N95 respirators had the largest impact on speech recognition while surgical masks had no effect.


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Haunting Sounds from a Nearly Forgotten Instrument

The glass armonica is one of Benjamin Franklin’s many contributions to the world. 

The armonica’s short-lived popularity (1760-1820s) is perhaps partly due to a series of unfortunate events and suspicion. 

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Noise Pollution and Health Effects

A recent article in Medical News Today highlights some of the less obvious effects noise and noise pollution have on our bodies. 

While hearing loss is a commonly known consequence of over exposure to noise, noise pollution, the presence of unwanted sounds in the environment, has been shown to affect mental health, sleeping patterns, physical health, and impact learning. 

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Survey of Teen Noise Exposure

In a recent survey and analysis published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), John Eichwald, MA, chief of the CDC Child Development and Disability Branch, and Franco Scinicariello, MD, a health scientist at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, reported some startling results regarding teenagers and loud noise exposure.

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When the Music Fades

Collins, Townshend, Clapton, Beethoven. What do these names have in common? Music icons—that they are. 

They also are musicians who have publicly acknowledged their hearing loss and its impact on their musicianship. And these famous names are certainly not alone. 

The Hearing Health Foundation estimates that professional musicians are four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss and 57 percent more likely to develop tinnitus. 

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Can’t Hear Because of this Ringing!

A very common complaint among tinnitus patients is that their hearing is compromised by the presence of tinnitus. If the tinnitus could be cured then they would hear just fine. Recently, Oosterloo et al (2020) sought to address this issue.

Using data from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study on aging, they compared participants reporting tinnitus to those without tinnitus in subgroups stratified for hearing thresholds on the digits in noise test.

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Academy Recommends Protecting Your Hearing from Loud Outdoor Noise Exposure

Loud lawn equipment, fireworks, gunfire...

As summer nears, the American Academy of Audiology is warning the public to protect its hearing when exposed to loud outdoor sounds—from fireworks to lawn equipment to road equipment, blasting and gunfire, many of these are dangerous for hearing.

As temperatures increase across the country and more regions open up to outdoor shopping and dining, more Americans will be spending a greater amount of time outdoors. At the same time, the numbers of Americans facing hearing loss is at a record high and rising annually.

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Photo collage of American flag, an explosion and an overlapping soundwave

Blast Exposure and Auditory Processing

Auditory problems are the most common service-connected disability (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019) and the fourth leading cause of medical referral for Veterans of the United States military (McIlwain et al, 2008). 

Topic(s): blast exposure, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, Noise, veterans

There’s an App for That

The University of Michigan is rolling out a new Apple app for a hearing study that will measure the user’s environmental and headphone sound exposures over time. 

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A New Way to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Iowa may have discovered a new way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.  

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