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Faculty & Staff Honors

South Carolina Researcher Receives $1.5 Million NIH Grant to Improve Speech Recognition Under Adverse Listening Conditions

Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) Assistant Professor Dr. Daniel Fogerty, at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, has been awarded a five-year, $1,563,416 RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Jointly funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) for the first three years and then solely funded by NIDCD for the remaining two years, the grant will support Dr. Fogerty’s project, “Maximizing speech recognition under adverse listening conditions.”

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[Photo: Dr. Daniel Fogerty]

“Hearing loss is one of the largest public health concerns that disproportionately affects older adults and limits speech understanding, particularly in noisy listening environments,” says Dr. Fogerty. “It is essential that the individual and environmental factors that limit speech understanding are identified in order to maximize the benefits that older adults with hearing loss may receive from amplified speech in adverse listening conditions.”

These adverse listening conditions, such as a noisy restaurant or other environments with competing speakers and sounds, present one of the greatest challenges for those who experience hearing loss—an estimated 36 million Americans. However, less than 20 percent of adults who have hearing loss use hearing aids.

“Major technologic advances in hearing aids have improved speech recognition in quiet listening environments,” Dr. Fogerty says. “But hearing-aid benefit is still limited in the presence of noise, especially backgrounds of competing speech.”

With these challenges in mind, his research will advance precision audiology by focusing on the most difficult, yet highly common listening situation: speech understanding in the presence of a competing talker. Dr. Fogerty’s long-term goal is to enhance hearing aid programming in complex, real-world environments (e.g., restaurants and other public places), in order to improve communication.

The research will take place in the Speech Perception Laboratory, which Dr. Fogerty established in the COMD department when he joined the Arnold School in 2011. He came to the University of South Carolina shortly after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Hearing Science at Indiana University (2011), where he also earned a dual Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Science and Cognitive Science (2010) and held an NIH-funded Predoctoral Fellowship in Speech, Hearing and Sensory Communication (2006-2009).

Read more: http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/public_health/about/news/2016/fogerty_nih_grant.php