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Prof. Dr. Hartmut Meister

Jean Uhrmacher Institut für klinische HNO-Forschung, Leiter Audiologische Forschung

Curriculum vitae

Hartmut Meister initially studied electrical engineering with a focus on medical technology before he became a research assistant at the ENT-University hospital in Cologne, after working as a lecturer of medical imaging in Essen. He received his doctorate in 1999, and was appointed an assistant professor in 2004 and an associate professor in 2011. Since 2002 he is head of the Audiological Research Group at the Jean Uhrmacher Institute at the University of Cologne. He is a member of several scientific associations and was chairman of the hearing aid committee of the German Audiology Society between 2008 and 2013. His work focuses on speech perception, psychoacoustics, hearing aids and cochlear implant rehabilitation.



Verbal communication is of outstanding importance for social interaction and participation. We are interested in how speech is perceived and understood while considering various factors such as signal quality, hearing loss and different cognitive mechanisms. This appears to be especially crucial in older people – due to a typical age-related hearing impairment as well as a decline in several cognitive abilities. In this context, hearing aids and cochlear implants are beneficial in terms of reducing the detrimental effects of hearing loss. However, why listeners with similar impairment may benefit differently is not well understood.

Theoretical considerations suggest that listening to speech and understanding in adverse conditions (such as background noise, competing talkers, etc.) cause cognitive load: Despite the fact that speech intelligibility might be high, listening may be demanding resulting in effort and fatigue. The circumstances yielding listening effort and the interaction with hearing aids and cochlear implants has not been comprehensively investigated. This holds especially true since technical measures of aural rehabilitation such as cochlear implants may strongly alter the signal quality and universal measures of cognitive load and listening effort have not yet been established.

Our aim is a better understanding of speech perception, cognitive load and listening effort while considering the above mentioned aspects. To this end, we use different methods that allow capturing these factors both subjectively and objectively. For the subjective metrics different scaling methods are used. Objective measures consider behavioral examinations (e.g., reaction times during single and dual task methods) as well as eye-tracking and pupillometry. Another objective is to make laboratory assessments more “ecologically valid”, i.e., to reflect more life-like features, such as audiovisual speech. Different study populations, namely older listeners with and without hearing impairment as well as hearing aid and cochlear implant users are considered. Examinations are commonly performed in collaboration with the ENT-University hospital (Dr. P. Sandmann, Prof. M. Walger).



Huber R, Rählmann S, Bisitz T, Meis M, Steinhauser S, Meister H. Influence of working memory and attention on sound-quality ratings. J Acoust Soc Am. 2019 Mar;145(3):1283. doi: 10.1121/1.5092808. PMID: 31067927.

Meister H, Rählmann S, Walger M. Low background noise increases cognitive load in older adults listening to competing speech. J Acoust Soc Am. 2018 Nov;144(5):EL417. doi: 10.1121/1.5078953. PMID: 30522293.

Meister H, Rählmann S, Lemke U, Besser J. Verbal Response Times as a Potential Indicator of Cognitive Load During Conventional Speech Audiometry With Matrix Sentences. Trends Hear. 2018 Jan-Dec;22:2331216518793255. doi:10.1177/2331216518793255. PMID: 30124111; PMCID: PMC6102757.

Schreitmüller S, Frenken M, Bentz L, Ortmann M, Walger M, Meister H. Validating a Method to Assess Lipreading, Audiovisual Gain, and Integration During Speech Reception With Cochlear-Implanted and Normal-Hearing Subjects Using a Talking Head. Ear Hear. 2018 May/Jun;39(3):503-516. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000000502. PMID: 29068860.

Rählmann S, Meis M, Schulte M, Kießling J, Walger M, Meister H. Assessment of hearing aid algorithms using a master hearing aid: the influence of hearing aid experience on the relationship between speech recognition and cognitive capacity. Int J Audiol. 2018 Jun;57(sup3):S105-S111. doi:10.1080/14992027.2017.1319079. Epub 2017 Apr 27. PMID: 28449597.

Meister H. Sprachaudiometrie, Sprachwahrnehmung und kognitive Funktionen [Speech audiometry, speech perception and cognitive functions. German version]. HNO. 2017 Mar;65(3):189-194. German. doi: 10.1007/s00106-016-0229-4. PMID: 27680543.

Meister H, Fuersen K, Schreitmueller S, Walger M. Effect of acoustic fine structure cues on the recognition of auditory-only and audiovisual speech. J Acoust Soc Am. 2016 Jun;139(6):3116. doi: 10.1121/1.4953022. PMID: 27369134.

Meister H, Schreitmüller S, Ortmann M, Rählmann S, Walger M. Effects of Hearing Loss and Cognitive Load on Speech Recognition with Competing Talkers. Front Psychol. 2016 Mar 4;7:301. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00301. PMID: 26973585; PMCID: PMC4777916.

Meister H, Rählmann S, Walger M, Margolf-Hackl S, Kießling J. Hearing aid fitting in older persons with hearing impairment: the influence of cognitive function, age, and hearing loss on hearing aid benefit. Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Feb 10;10:435-43. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S77096. PMID: 25709417; PMCID: PMC4330028.

Carroll R, Meis M, Schulte M, Vormann M, Kießling J, Meister H. Development of a German reading span test with dual task design for application in cognitive hearing research. Int J Audiol. 2015 Feb;54(2):136-41. doi: 10.3109/14992027.2014.952458. Epub 2014 Sep 8. PMID: 25195607.

Meister H, Schreitmüller S, Grugel L, Ortmann M, Beutner D, Walger M, Meister IG. Cognitive resources related to speech recognition with a competing talker in young and older listeners. Neuroscience. 2013 Mar 1;232:74-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.12.006. Epub 2012 Dec 13. PMID: 23246616.