Martha M. Shiell1, Teresa Cabella1, Gitte Keidser1, Diederick C. Niehorster2, Marcus Nyström2,  Martin Skoglund1,3, Simon With1, Johannes Zaar1,4, Sergi Rotger-Griful1
1Eriksholm Research Centre, Oticon A/S, DK-3070 Snekkersten, Denmark
2Humanities Lab, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
3Department of Electrical Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
4Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

The ability to understand speech in complex listening environments reflects an interaction of cognitive and sensory capacities that are difficult to capture with behavioural tests. The study of natural listening behaviours may lead to the development of new metrics that better reflect real-life communication abilities. To this end, we investigated the relationship between speech comprehension and eye-movements among hearing-impaired people in a challenging listening situation. While previous research has investigated the effect of background noise on listeners’ gaze patterns with single talkers, the effect of noise in multitalker conversations remains unknown. Recently we presented data exploring this question at the 180th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. In the current presentation we will share an update on the results of this experiment with recently tested participants added to the analysis. In our experiment, participants viewed video recordings of two life-sized talkers engaged in an unscripted dialogue. Hearing loss ranged from moderate to severe. We used multiple-choice questions to measure participants’ comprehension of the conversation in multitalker babble noise at three different signal-to-noise ratios. All participants made saccades between the two talkers more frequently than the talkers’ conversational turns. This measure tended to correlate positively with participants’ comprehension scores, but the effect was significant in only one signal-to-noise ratio condition. A post-hoc investigation suggests that the intertalker saccade rate is driven by an interaction of hearing ability and conversational turn-taking events, which will be further discussed.

Acknowledgements: This work was financially supported by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, VR 2017-06092 Mekanismer och behandling vid åldersrelaterad hörselnedsättninggrant).