It is well established that successful listening with advanced signal processing in digital hearing aids is associated with individual working memory capacity, which is the cognitive ability to keep information in mind and process it. Different types of cognitive processing may be required in different situations. For example, when listening in noise it may be necessary to inhibit irrelevant information and update misheard information. There is evidence that simply hearing a spoken utterance consumes cognitive resources and may do so to different degrees for different individuals. To determine just how useful different kinds of signal processing are, it is important to determine to what extent they help individual hearing aid users cope with the kind of cognitive demands that may arise in everyday listening situations. This article explores the role of cognition in hearing aid use and describes recent work aimed at determining individual cognitivespare capacity or the ability to process speech heard in noise in ways that may be relevant for communication.
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