Can we capture the deeper meaning behind conversations? The idea that audibility precedes intelligibility is fundamental to appreciating the difference between hearing and comprehension. But beyond making sounds audible and words understandable, are we doing enough to uncover the true meaning behind speech? 

During appointments, have you sat with clients who are still struggling in conversations despite knowing that their hearing instruments are performing well? Or, maybe they report not feeling as connected to the people in their lives as they would like? It’s possible that they can’t accurately verbalize the problem, just that something isn’t clicking. They are somehow missing the point of what is being said, despite having the amplification they need. 

While hearing instruments improve audibility (the ability to hear sounds) and intelligibility (the ability to understand words), it isn’t enough to fully communicate meaning. Listeners need more information to really understand or get to the heart of what is being said. And, when people miss out on the emotion in speech, they also miss out on deeper meaning.

Studying the ability to perceive emotion in speech is an exciting, new area of research and recent studies confirm the severity and consistency of this issue across a variety of test subjects and hearing instruments. An online study1 surveyed those with normal hearing and hearing loss, on how well they could perceive emotions using the EMO-CHeQ (Emotional Communications in Hearing Questionnaire), a questionnaire designed to assess experiences of hearing and handicap when listening to signals that contain vocal emotion information. 

Results confirm that people with hearing loss rated themselves significantly worse than those with normal hearing. And, interestingly, people wearing hearing instruments scored no better than the hearing-impaired group, showing us that their current devices do not help with the perception of emotion in speech. 

A follow up study at Ryerson University1 confirmed the results of this online study, using the same questionnaire, but in a lab setting and measured hearing thresholds. The test subjects included those with normal hearing, hearing loss, and hearing instruments. This study confirmed that people with hearing loss and those with hearing instruments showed a significant impairment in perceiving emotion compared to those with normal hearing. Both studies show that most hearing instruments fall short of delivering a full experience that includes emotion, and therefore the true meaning behind words. 

The good news?  Unitron’s technology improved perception of emotion2

A study2 by Oldenburg University, tested Unitron hearing instruments and other brands, having participants complete the EMO-CheQ questionnaire before and after wearing a hearing instrument for a few weeks. Study participants (new and experienced users) reported that their perception of emotions was improved wearing the Unitron devices exclusively, across various listening situations. One of the researchers commented, “We were astonished to see comparably huge differences from the other hearing instruments and the Unitron hearing instruments.”

How do we do it?  SoundCore™ - a remarkably intelligent system that cuts through noise, so words are better understood, and the deeper meaning in conversations are easier to perceive. Available with hearing instruments on the Discover Next platform, this world-class system integrates various unique features, including SoundNav 3.0, Sound Conductor, Spatial Awareness, and SpeechPro. Working together, these powerful features provide an enhanced experience, including the ability to better hear the meaning behind speech.

Empower your clients with an elevated hearing solution that goes beyond words and gets to the heart of every conversation.

1Singh, Liskovoi, Launer, & Russo:  The Emotional Communication in Hearing Questionnaire (EMO-CHeQ), Ear & Hearing, 2019. 
2Singh, Kreuger, Besser, Wietoska, Launer, Meis. (2018). A Pre-Post Intervention Study of Hearing Aid Amplification: Results of the Emotional Communication in Hearing Questionnaire (EMO-CHeQ).