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Effects of gamification on a spatial release test (Bologna et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-02-10, 20:04 authored by William J. Bologna, Audrey A. Carrillo, David S. Clamage, Laura Coco, Yue J. He, Esteban Sebastian Lelo de Larrea-Mancera, G. Christopher Stecker, Frederick J. Gallun, Aaron R. Seitz

Purpose: Difficulty understanding speech in noise is a common communication problem. Clinical tests of speech in noise differ considerably from real-world listening and offer patients limited intrinsic motivation to perform well. In order to design a test that captures motivational aspects of real-world communication, this study investigated effects of gamification, or the inclusion of game elements, on a laboratory spatial release from masking test.

Method: Fifty-four younger adults with normal hearing completed a traditional laboratory and a gamified test of spatial release from masking in counterbalanced order. Masker level adapted based on performance, with the traditional test ending after 10 reversals and the gamified test ending when participants solved a visual puzzle. Target-to-masker ratio thresholds (TMRs) with colocated maskers, separated maskers, and estimates of spatial release were calculated after the 10th reversal for both tests and from the last six reversals of the adaptive track from the gamified test.

Results: Thresholds calculated from the 10th reversal indicated no significant differences between the traditional and gamified tests. A learning effect was observed with spatially separated maskers, such that TMRs were better for the second test than the first, regardless of test order. Thresholds calculated from the last six reversals of the gamified test indicated better TMRs in the separated condition compared to the traditional test.

Conclusions: Adding gamified elements to a traditional test of spatial release from masking did not negatively affect test validity or estimates of spatial release. Participants were willing to continue playing the gamified test for an average of 30.2 reversals of the adaptive track. For some listeners, performance in the separated condition continued to improve after the 10th reversal, leading to better TMRs and greater spatial release from masking at the end of the gamified test compared to the traditional test.

Supplemental Material S1. Describes a parallel set of analyses of TMR data (10th reversal and last 6 thresholds) using linear mixed effects modeling, including the modeling approach, model testing, and interpretation of the results. Modeling results are consistent with the ANOVAs reported in the main text.

Bologna, W. J., Carrillo, A. A., Clamage, D. S., Coco, L., He, Y. J., Lelo de Larrea Mancera, E. S., Stecker, G. C., Gallun, F. J., & Seitz, A. R. (2023). Effects of gamification on assessment of spatial release from masking. American Journal of Audiology, 32(1), 210–219.


This work was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC 018166 (PIs: Frederick J. Gallun, Aaron R. Seitz, and G. Christopher Stecker).