Assessment of the dynamic exertion of listening effort: A lifespan perspective

  • Obleser, Jonas (Principal Investigator (PI))
  • Fiebach, Christian J. (Co-PI)
  • Henry, Molly J. (Associated Staff)
  • Herrmann, Björn (Principal Investigator (PI))

Project: DFG ProjectsDFG Individual Projects

Project Details


Hearing impairment affects more than 40% of people over the age of 50 and can make comprehension of speech in noisy situations (e.g., a lively restaurant) impossible. Impaired hearing necessarily increases the load on cognitive capacities such as attention, in turn, making listening effortful. Standard hearing tests do not capture this cognitive impact of hearing loss, although listening effort can explain much variance in behavior, for example, why some people avoid noisy social situations, whereas other do not. Measures that are sensitive to the cognitive aspects of hearing loss are critically needed. Older individuals with diminished hearing ability are at risk to suffer from social isolation and depression, and may undergo an accelerated cognitive decline. The economic costs associated with hearing loss are over 200 billion euros annually in the EU alone. Here, I will link listening effort to an electrophysiological signature of neural activity, and will deliver a detailed account of the neural processes engaged in dynamic effort exertion and how these processes are affected by aging. This work is conceptually rooted in frameworks focusing on listening effort, and empirically rooted in a research line investigating cognitive processes by measuring neural oscillatory activity in the alpha (8–12 Hz) frequency band. The proposed research program will (1) establish the sensitivity with which alpha oscillatory activity reflects dynamic effort exertion over time, (2) determine the generalizability of alpha activity for effort assessment in different stimulation contexts, and (3) elucidate how aging affects effort-related alpha activity. The innovative aspects of this proposal are the joint consideration of the temporal dynamics of effort exertion and neural oscillatory activity, and the application of this joint consideration to aging individuals. The work will deliver significant basic science advances with high translational value, as understanding dynamic effort exertion is a crucial step to understanding the cognitive impact of hearing loss and is the basis to developing novel approaches to assess hearing impairment in older people.
Effective start/end date01.01.19 → …

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 110-01 General, Cognitive and Mathematical Psychology
  • 206-04 Cognitive, Systemic and Behavioural Neurobiology
  • 206-08 Cognitive and Systemic Human Neuroscience


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