the benefits of bilateral versus unilateral amplification for the elderly: Are two always better than one?

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The use of bilateral hearing aids is based on the assumption that the human auditory system functions best when both ears receive incoming acoustic information. There is evidence, however, that some elderly individuals perform better while using unilateral as opposed to bilateral amplification. The main objective of the present study was to compare speech recognition in noise in elderly hearing-impaired patients initially fitted with bilateral hearing aids while they used unilateral versus bilateral amplification. A secondary goal was to investigate the association between performance with one versus two hearing aids and central auditory function as measured by a dichotic test, and to evaluate the effect of increasing age on these two measures. Twenty-eight patients (mean age 72.8 years, range: 62-86) with bilateral symmetrical mild-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss fitted with digital hearing aids, participated in the study. Speech recognition in noise was assessed in three conditions: (1) aided right ear, (2) aided left ear, (3) aided bilaterally, using the AB open-set monosyllabic word test at a signal-to-noise ratio of +10 dB. Speech stimuli were presented at 70 dB SPL via a loudspeaker located at 0° azimuth and the noise was presented via a second loudspeaker located at 180° azimuth. In addition, dichotic listening abilities were evaluated using the threshold-of-interference test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-216
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


  • aging
  • bilateral/unilateral amplification
  • dichotic listening
  • hearing aids
  • speech recognition in noise


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