Hearing Aid Laboratory

Our research is motivated by clinical questions. Why do two people with the same hearing loss, fit with the same hearing aid technology, have such different outcomes? What happens when the signal-processing effects of digital hearing aids are combined with an impaired auditory system? What factors contribute to difficulty understanding speech as we age?

In this translational research laboratory, we study how auditory and cognitive abilities vary among individuals, and how hearing aid processing and other auditory recommendations can be better tailored to each patient. Our view of hearing aid fitting is that is it both “bottom-up” (affected by deficits in cochlear processing) and “top-down” (affected by central processing resources and ability to make use of an acoustically deficient signal). Within this framework, our work addresses communication problems associated with hearing loss, with particular focus on hearing devices and clinical decision-making. For more information, please see the projects page.


We are grateful to have ongoing support for our work from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

Opportunities for individuals with hearing loss

We are interested in working with individuals with and without hearing loss who would like to participate in research. All of our research participants are offered counseling about their auditory abilities as part of their involvement in our studies.

Our current projects include:

Adults who are interested in training to help them learn to better understand speech in noise while wearing hearing aids.   The goal is to find out whether intensive training can improve your ability to communicate successfully in noise.  It involves listening to speech though a loudspeaker, and either identifying what you heard or answering questions about the information This study requires you visit the Hearing Aid Laboratory 2-3 times a week for several months. Find out how to enroll!

Adults who are interested in detailed hearing testing for their severe hearing loss.  Individuals with severe loss have difficulty understanding conversations, even when the speech is at a normal or loud level.  Many individuals with severe loss report that hearing aids make speech louder, but not clearer.  They may have substantial difficulty hearing in background noise, even with hearing aids.  The goal of our work is to understand these issues and to make customized hearing treatment recommendations for severe hearing loss.  After testing is complete, we’ll discuss the test results with you and talk about ways you can improve communication.

For more information on these or other research projects, please contact us at 847-467-0897 or email us at halab@northwestern.edu. For information on clinical hearing-aid services, you may contact the Northwestern University Audiology Clinic at 847-491-3165.

Opportunities for researchers and students

We welcome inquiries from students or postdoctoral researchers interested in job opportunities in the lab. Possible areas of interest include communication disorders, engineering, linguistics, psychology, epidemiology, gerontology and neuroscience. Interested individuals should contact the lab director, Pamela Souza at p-souza@northwestern.edu.