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Noise Exposure and Hearing Problems Study

​​​We are seeking adults who have spent time in loud noise environments to participate in a research study to help us develop tests to identify hearing loss caused by loud noise exposure. Research has shown that loud noise exposure can damage parts of the ear that respond to moderate and loud level sounds. This damage may cause problems with understanding speech in a background noise, such as in restaurants or at parties. The purpose of this research is to find ways to identify people who have hearing loss caused by loud noise exposure and eventually develop strategies for helping those people hear better in background noise.

Noise Exposure and Hearing Problems Quiz

Are you concerned about your hearing? Click the link below to take our Noise Exposure and Hearing Quiz.

Find Out If You're At Risk For Hearing Damage

Who can participate?

You can participate in this study if you are an English-speaking adult who has normal hearing or hearing loss and you:

  • have been exposed to gunfire, explosions or high impact noise.
  • have difficulty understanding speech when there is other noise present.​
​ ​

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I receive compensation if I participate?

You will be compensated $15.00/hour in cash at the end of each session if you decide to participate.        

What will I be asked to do?

If you choose to participate in this study, you will be asked to come in for 2 visits, each lasting 2-3 hours. During those visits you will be asked to do some of the following tasks.              

Standard Hearing testStandard Hearing Test:

  • This test measures how well you hear soft sounds.
  • You will hear sounds presented through earphones and push a button when you hear a sound.
  • This test takes 10-30 minutes.

Listening task (Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions):

  • This test tells us how well certain cells in your inner ear (cochlea) work.
  • You will sit in a comfortable chair.
  • A small rubber or foam earphone will be placed in your ear canal and various levels of sounds will be played to your ear.
  • During the testing, you may sit quietly, sleep or watch a DVD with subtitles.
  • This task typically takes 15-20 minutes.
  • Listening Task 

Behavioral Task (Psychoacoustics):

  • These tasks tell us about a range of listening skills.
  • You will listen to sounds presented through earphones.
  • You will tell us when you hear a particular sound by clicking a button.
  • You will be listening to sounds for up to an hour, with breaks every 20 minutes.
  • Psychoacoustics 

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Task:

  • This test tells us how well your hearing nerve and parts of your brain respond to sounds.
  • Two to four small surface sensors will be placed onto your head and held in place by tape or sensor paste.
  • A foam earphone covered in thin foil may be placed in your ear canal.
  • You will rest quietly (either sitting or reclining) in a dimly lit room.
  • This procedure has been used to test hearing in infants and young children in clinical settings for many years.
  • This test takes 30 - 40 minutes
  • ABR 

The earphone produces sounds and the sensors pick up responses at different locations on the pathway from your ear to your brain. The responses are sent to a computer and result in a display that looks like it has peaks and valleys.
ABR waveform

Speech Understanding Task:

  • This task measures your ability to understand words in quiet and in background noise.
  • You will hear the words through headphones and repeat back what you hear.
  • This task takes about 20 minutes.
  • Speech Understanding 


  • You will be asked about your past and current exposure to loud sounds.
  • You will be asked about your experience hearing and listening in different situations.
  • You may be asked whether or not you speak multiple languages. If you do, you may be asked about your use of those languages.
  • You may be asked about tinnitus (ringing or buzzing noises in your ears).
  • You may be asked about your music experience.
  • These tasks take about 15-45 minutes.
  • Questionaire 

Memory and Attention tasks:

  • These tasks measure your ability to pay attention and remember what you see and hear.
  • You may be asked to:
    • identify pictures or colors
    • remember patterns
    • repeat verbal information in the same or different order
    • answer questions

    Memory and Attention 

Where will the study take place?

We are located at Boys Town National Research Hospital at 555 N. 30th St., Omaha, NE 68131.         

When will appointments be scheduled?

We schedule most of our visits Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Alternate times may be arranged individually if necessary.         

How do I get involved or get additional information?

To learn more about this study, please contact Sara or Judy at​​ or call (531) 355-6373​.​