Fine-Tuning Futures Audiologist Christi Miller is looking for ways to improve real-world outcomes for people who use hearing aids. Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions  |   June 01, 2017
Fine-Tuning Futures
Author Notes
  • Christi Miller, PhD, CCC-A
    Christi Miller, PhD, CCC-A×
Article Information
Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   June 01, 2017
Fine-Tuning Futures
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, June 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/
  • Research and Clinical Audiologist/Lecturer and Director of the Amplification Laboratory, University of Washington

  • ASHFoundation Award: 2015 New Century Scholars Research Grant ($25,000), “Predicting Hearing Aid Success With Spectro-Temporal Modulation Sensitivity”


What is the focus of your research?
My research is focused on improving outcomes for hearing aid users, primarily by individualizing treatment approaches. Factors considered instrumental for individualizing treatment include auditory (for example, suprathreshold distortion) and non-auditory (cognitive ability, for example) variables.
One metric of suprathreshold distortion is sensitivity to spectral and temporal modulations, which co-occur in natural speech. The goal of my current work is to use sensitivity to spectral-temporal modulations to individualize hearing aid processing, such as compression.
How did your award from the ASHFoundation lead to your current work?
The support I received from the ASHFoundation has facilitated the establishment of a new independent line of research. Because of the resources I was awarded, I had time and funding to test new hypotheses, formulate better questions and protocols, and generate the pilot data needed to submit my first NIH grant proposal.
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
My hope is that the results of my work will lead to improvements in real-world outcomes for hearing aid users and provide clinicians with evidence-based guidelines on selecting hearing aid settings.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
I practiced clinically for seven years before focusing on a research career, and I continue to see a few patients a week. I have experienced firsthand the frustration of not being able to do more to improve the quality of life for my patients. Although technology is certainly not the only answer to our patients’ problems, I found myself drawn to the intersection of auditory and acoustic processing. Furthermore, any clinician will tell you that no two people with the same hearing levels experience the same communication difficulties, so it is not reasonable to treat them as such.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
The funding I received from the ASHFoundation has given me confidence to forge my own path and acknowledge my capabilities when adequate resources are provided.
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June 2017
Volume 22, Issue 6