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Approved Research

Deriving novel markers of general and hearing health from measures of speech perception in noise

Principal Investigator: Dr Robert Pierzycki
Approved Research ID: 61759
Approval date: September 16th 2020

Lay summary

The UK Biobank holds information about hearing and cognitive ability from a large group of people, measured at different points in time. Hearing ability was measured using both a questionnaire and a listening test, the "Digit Triplet Test" (DTT), which measures the ability to understand speech in a background of noise. The UK Biobank also collected detailed data about the participant's cognitive ability on the day of the listening test and how well they performed the test. There is currently little information about how much the results and performance on the listening test vary when it is performed repeatedly over time and whether it is reliable. The relationships between the changes in a person's cognitive and hearing ability over time or their performance on the listening test are also not well understood but have the potential to help identifying new ways of measuring and managing hearing disability. Moreover, the use of large-scale data about hearing disability with computational models has the potential for identifying subpopulations that may require specific hearing treatments or to improve the predictions of developing problems with cardiovascular health that is important for good functioning of the hearing organ.

The present study will assess the variability and reliability of the measures of hearing ability in the UK Biobank. The detailed data about the listening test will be explored to determine potential new measures of hearing health and subpopulations of patients with specific profiles of hearing disability. The study will also explore the associations between measures of cognitive and hearing ability, and performance in listening tasks. The findings will be used to assess their utility for predicting the risk of health conditions associated with hearing health such cardiovascular disease.

 The findings will help the researchers using listening tests and other hearing-related measures, including those in the UK Biobank, to better design and interpret the findings of their studies. The findings will also help to better understand the associations between hearing, cognitive and cardiovascular health, and to inform the development of new and personalised treatment strategies in the future.