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mEEGaHStim - Mobile EEG-based brain stimulation to improve hearing

The "cocktail party effect" describes the ability of hearing-healthy people to focus on a specific speaker and to suppress other sounds. Many hearing-impaired people lack this ability or it is no longer sufficiently developed. Modern hearing aids are very good at separating useful sounds from interfering sounds, but in "cocktail party situations" they do not know which is the useful signal because they lack information about which speaker the hearing aid is supposed to follow. The project "mEEGaHStim - Mobile EEG-based brain stimulation to improve hearing", funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims to remedy this situation.

The aim of the project, which started on 01 April 2017, is to develop a system that improves speech intelligibility in complex situations for hearing-impaired people and automatically emphasizes the signal from the source on which the user is currently focusing. This will be achieved through a combination of electroencephalography (EEG), audio signal processing and electrostimulation of the brain's auditory center. The overall system is a head-worn hearing aid that uses a brain-computer interface to feed information from the EEG signal back into the system, enabling it to positively influence the hearing process. In this way, direct interaction with the user takes place. For hearing aid users and cochlear implant patients, this makes hearing significantly easier and enables improved social participation and rehabilitation.

By deriving neurophysiological signals and simultaneous stimulation of auditory areas, an interactive brain-computer interface with a neurofeedback loop is developed, which represents an innovative solution to the "cocktail party effect" that has long been the subject of hearing research.

Funding measure

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Project partner

  • neuroConn GmbH, Ilmenau (coordinator)
  • Advanced Bionics GmbH, Hannover
  • Universität Oldenburg
  • HörTech gGmbH, Oldenburg
  • Universität Siegen
  • Fraunhofer IDMT, Oldenburg

Project duration

April 2017 until April 2020

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