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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 85  |  Page : 376--381

Air traffic controllers’ long-term speech-in-noise training effects: A control group study


1 Laboratorio de Psicoacústica, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
2 ENT Department & Departamento de CC Quirúrgicas, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
3 ENT Department, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain
4 Instituto Universitario de Sistemas Inteligentes y Aplicaciones Numéricas, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain

Correspondence Address:
Maria T.P. Zaballos
Laboratorio de Psicoacústica, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil, Av Marítima Sur, s/n, 35001 Las Palmas De Gran Canaria, Las Palmas
Spain
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.195804

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Introduction: Speech perception in noise relies on the capacity of the auditory system to process complex sounds using sensory and cognitive skills. The possibility that these can be trained during adulthood is of special interest in auditory disorders, where speech in noise perception becomes compromised. Air traffic controllers (ATC) are constantly exposed to radio communication, a situation that seems to produce auditory learning. The objective of this study has been to quantify this effect. Subjects and Methods: 19 ATC and 19 normal hearing individuals underwent a speech in noise test with three signal to noise ratios: 5, 0 and −5 dB. Noise and speech were presented through two different loudspeakers in azimuth position. Speech tokes were presented at 65 dB SPL, while white noise files were at 60, 65 and 70 dB respectively. Results: Air traffic controllers outperform the control group in all conditions [P<0.05 in ANOVA and Mann-Whitney U tests]. Group differences were largest in the most difficult condition, SNR=−5 dB. However, no correlation between experience and performance were found for any of the conditions tested. The reason might be that ceiling performance is achieved much faster than the minimum experience time recorded, 5 years, although intrinsic cognitive abilities cannot be disregarded. Discussion: ATC demonstrated enhanced ability to hear speech in challenging listening environments. This study provides evidence that long-term auditory training is indeed useful in achieving better speech-in-noise understanding even in adverse conditions, although good cognitive qualities are likely to be a basic requirement for this training to be effective. Conclusion: Our results show that ATC outperform the control group in all conditions. Thus, this study provides evidence that long-term auditory training is indeed useful in achieving better speech-in-noise understanding even in adverse conditions.






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