MINNEAPOLIS–The Hearing Industry Research Consortium (IRC) announced on Monday the recipients of $300,000 in research grants in its initial Request for Proposals (RFP) program. Piers Dawes, PhD, a research fellow at the University of Manchester in the UK, and Andrea Pittman, PhD, associate professor at Arizona State University, will each receive $150,000 to support their research projects, which are aimed at advancing the understanding of the interaction between cognition and hearing aids.
Formed in 2012, the IRC is made up of the heads of research of the world’s six largest hearing aid manufacturers. It was created to promote a non-competitive, mutually agreed upon research agenda benefiting the hearing aid industry, its customers, and end users.
The IRC said that it received more than 15 outstanding grant proposals after announcing the grant and formation of the consortium in August 2012 at the International Hearing Aid Research Conference in Lake Tahoe, California.
The topic of Dawes’s research is “Tuning of auditory attention: The importance for hearing aid acclimatization and benefit.” Dawes explained, “Hearing loss is very common and leads to difficulties with communication, social isolation, depression, poor general health and possibly cognitive decline. We are very excited by our new IRC-funded research because we think [it] will address a key reason why some people struggle to adjust to hearing aids. The research could have a big impact in improving adjustment to hearing aids, increasing benefit and improving quality of life.”
Pittman’s research will examine “Assessing advanced hearing aid features using behavioral tasks that vary in cognitive demand.” She stated, “We believe that the formation of an Industry Research Consortium is a bold and innovative move by the major hearing aid manufacturers to advance the science and outcomes of hearing technology.” Pittman added, “We look forward to collaborating with these companies as we examine the benefits of advanced hearing aid features to the cognitive demands of children and adults with hearing loss.”
Stefan Launer, the 2013 chair of the IRC, said, “Our field is just beginning to understand how hearing aids can positively affect cognition and how cognitive ability affects hearing aid benefit.” The vice-president, advanced concepts and technologies, at Phonak added, “We are excited to be able to advance this important research area through the funding of projects by these two outstanding researchers at world-class universities.”
The IRC will fund new research projects every year, with different research goals for each RFP. The new 2013 request for proposals will be released this summer.
ABOUT THE CONSORTIUM
The Hearing Industry Research Consortium is made up of the heads of research from GN ReSound, Oticon, Phonak, Siemens, Starkey Hearing Technologies, and Widex. For more about the consortium, visit its web site.