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Release: Immediate

University of Iowa speech pathology professor receives $700,000 research grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa researcher has been awarded a five-year, $700,000 grant to continue work on speech recognition by persons with hearing impairments.

Dr. Christopher Turner, UI professor of speech pathology and audiology, received the grant from the National Institutes of Deafness and other Communicative Disorders (part of the National Institutes of Health) for a project titled "Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants and Speech Recognition." The grant is a renewal of a project originally funded since 1989. Since then, the direction of the project has evolved to include the study of patients with cochlear implants.

"We want to see how well each of these kinds of patients use the different parts of speech information. One interesting result of the study so far is the finding that some patients with cochlear implants can make better use of some parts of the speech signal than some patients with severe hearing loss who use hearing aids," Turner says.

The study has two parts. The first examines the amount of auditory information that patients with hearing aids can handle.

"Progress is being made on signal processing schemes that move speech information into frequency regions that still have usable hearing," Turner says.

The second part of the study involves cochlear implant patients and aims toward methods to better adjust the implants for the patients' ears.

Both aspects of the study involve lowering the frequency to regions where patients still have good hearing.