The HEARLab® system is licenced by HEARworks Pty Ltd, the commercialisation arm of The HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). It is distributed in Australia by National Acoustic Laboratories. HEARLab® is a highly versatile clinical device that can be configured and controlled by a standard personal computer or laptop. Its design allows hearing tests to be delivered to clinicians in the form of new software modules, without the need to update equipment hardware as new procedures are developed. The first module of the HEARLab® system incorporates two different assessments: Aided Cortical Assessment (ACA) and Cortical Threshold Estimation (CTE).
Research conducted at the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) has confirmed that ACA is a valuable means of obtaining objective information about an infant’s response to sounds heard through hearing aids. ACA is capable of recording CAEPs in response to three natural speech sounds with low, mid and high frequency emphasis respectively. The presence of responses to all three sounds provides reassurance that an infant is able to detect sounds across the range of speech frequencies, which in turn should enable them to start the process of speech and language development. Both ACA and CTE test techniques also have application for adults or older children who are unable, or unwilling to participate in standard behavioural hearing tests.
HEARLab® has been designed to make objective audiologial assessment as easy and efficient as possible. It includes in-built statistical procedures to assist the clinician in determining whether a response is present or absent, allowing testing to be conducted by clinicians who are not expert electrophysiologists. Regardless of the hardware and software employed, there will almost certainly be some practical challenges, especially when testing infants and children.
The following website is intended to provide some useful information and guidance to help overcome some of these challenges, particularly those who are new to using electrophysiological assessment techniques.
A couple of independent clinical studies seem to indicate that cochlear implant (CI) artefacts are not an issue when recording cortical auditory evoked potentials (CAEPs) with HEARLab in children (Kosaner 2011, 2012; Raghunandhan 2012). These studies suggest that HEARLab recordings can be used to track cortical maturation after implantation and to evaluate CI fitting in children. However, as a systematic research study has not been carried out yet to determine the exact influence of CI artefacts on CAEPs recordings, we do recommend to refrain from using the HEARLab automatic detection system when testing CI clients, and to inspect the waveforms visually ONLY. Please discontinue testing when there is a suspicion of CI artefact presence. It might be possible to reduce the size of the CI artefact by repositioning electrodes. For more information, please contact Bram.VanDun@nal.gov.au