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Bayesian applications in auditory research (McMillan & Cannon, 2019)

posted on 25.03.2019 by Garnett P. McMillan, John B. Cannon
Purpose: This article presents a basic exploration of Bayesian inference to inform researchers unfamiliar to this type of analysis of the many advantages this readily available approach provides.
Method: First, we demonstrate the development of Bayes’ theorem, the cornerstone of Bayesian statistics, into an iterative process of updating priors. Working with a few assumptions, including normalcy and conjugacy of prior distribution, we express how one would calculate the posterior distribution using the prior distribution and the likelihood of the parameter. Next, we move to an example in auditory research by considering the effect of sound therapy for reducing the perceived loudness of tinnitus. In this case, as well as most real-world settings, we turn to Markov chain simulations because the assumptions allowing for easy calculations no longer hold. Using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, we can illustrate several analysis solutions given by a straightforward Bayesian approach.
Conclusion: Bayesian methods are widely applicable and can help scientists overcome analysis problems, including how to include existing information, run interim analysis, achieve consensus through measurement, and, most importantly, interpret results correctly.

Supplemental Material S1. SAS code for running the analysis described in the article.

Supplemental Material S2. MS Excel workbook, allowing the reader to experiment with the model described in the article.

McMillan, G. P., & Cannon, J. B. (2019). Bayesian applications in auditory research. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 577–586. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-ASTM-18-0250

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Research Forum: Advancing Statistical Methods in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences.


This research was supported by a grant from the Baker Group, LLP (Portland VA Research Foundation Grant 387004) awarded to J. A. Henry. This material is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (Center of Excellence Award C9230C) at the VA Portland Health Care System in Portland, Oregon.