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NEW YORK — How well can you understand speech in a noisy setting?

Difficulty doing that is a hallmark of what’s called “hidden hearing loss.” Now, with the help of an exercise prepared for the Associated Press by the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami, you can give it a try, below.


You will be asked to repeat a series of sentences. The exercise begins in quiet, but then it will introduce background noise. The noise comes in six levels, faint at first but eventually louder than the words.


People with hearing loss start to have some trouble understanding the words at the second or third level, according to Robert Fifer, director of audiology and speech pathology at the center. That doesn’t mean that they can’t understand anything, but they show increasing difficulty understanding accurately what is said compared to someone with normal hearing abilities, he said.


The same appears to be true for people with normal scores on the standard hearing test called an audiogram, but who appear to have a loss of nerve connections associated with hidden hearing loss, he said.

— Malcolm Ritter

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