Do you know this situation: you are sitting in a restaurant and have difficulty following a conversation at the table? Such difficulties arise when hearing performance declines in old age. Even if your hearing still works well in other situations, this is a time to think about fitting a hearing aid. There are new studies that suggest that early fitting of a hearing aid could have positive effects on well-being, memory and also the brain. This is what we want to investigate with the present study.
Who can participate?
You can participate if you are between 50 and 80 years old, have a mild to moderate hearing loss and do not yet wear a hearing aid. In addition, you should not have any mental or neurological illnesses or wear any metal-containing objects (e.g. pacemakers) in or on your body. We would clarify further criteria for participation with you in a conversation.
What do I have to do?
If you participate in the study, we would first test your hearing to see if you have a hearing loss. If this is the case and you would like to continue in the study, you would have to agree either to be fitted with a hearing aid and wear it regularly or to wait another year before being fitted with a hearing aid. This is the only way we can compare whether wearing a hearing aid changes anything over the course of a year. To do this, we do several tests before and after the hearing aid fitting. On the test days at the university, we will test your performance (e.g. in speech comprehension or memory). We will also record your brain activity with fMRT and EEG. In fMRI, magnetic fields can be used to measure brain activity. With EEG, brain waves are derived from the surface of the head. Both methods have been tested many times and are harmless.
How time-consuming is participation?
You will be supervised by us for a total of one year within the framework of this study and have a fixed contact person for all your questions. This person will tell you when and where you have to do which tests. At the beginning and end of the study, you will take part in an fMRI and an EEG examination on two days each at the university. Further appointments will take place at the hearing centre for the fitting of the hearing aids. In addition, once you have been fitted with the hearing aids, you will take a few short online tests every day for several weeks from home, which will show us how well you cope with the hearing aids in everyday life. This means that although the study takes a certain amount of time, it also involves a very detailed examination of whether you get on well with the hearing system.
What kind of hearing aid will I get?
If you are drawn to the group that will be fitted with a hearing aid, you can choose one that you do well with from a variety of hearing aids. The hearing aid will be provided to you free of charge for the study participation. After participating in the study, you could buy a similar one from your hearing care professional. If you are assigned to the waiting group, we would ask you not to purchase a hearing aid during that year. After the end of the study, you will receive a free hearing aid consultation through the hearing centre.
Are there any costs associated with the study
You will not incur any costs as part of the study. The time spent on the tests is compensated with an expense allowance.
The study is being conducted in cooperation between scientists from the Cluster of Excellence (Prof. Thiel, Prof. Debener, Prof. Hildebrandt) and the Hörzentrum Oldenburg. For further questions, please contact Ms Anja Stierl by phone (+49 1573 0789878) and by e-mail