Background Noise Lab

Focus of the Lab

The primary focus of the Background Noise Lab is to examine the impact of background noise on communication. Background noise reduces an individual's ability to understand speech. Often hearing aid users are annoyed by background sound, which leads to the hearing aid user turning off the hearing aids or giving up completely on the use of amplification. The Background Noise research conducted at the University of South Alabama is aimed at identifying factors influencing a listener's willingness to listen in a noisy environment. Additionally, research in this lab is focused on identifying effective treatments for patients who are particularly sensitive to background noise. 


  • Susan Gordon-Hickey, Au.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor & Lab Director
  • Ashley Dockens, Ph.D. Student
  • Leah Lewis, Au.D. Student
  • Shelby Tiffin, Au.D. Student


Current Projects

  • Speech Understood at the Acceptable Noise Level
  • Acceptable Noise Level: Stimulus condition effects for older adult listeners with normal hearing and hearing impairment
  • The effect of music genre and music genre preference on Acceptable Noise Levels
  • The effects of sound enrichment on background noise acceptance
  • Recalibration of Acceptable Noise Levels


Recent Graduates

Holly Morlas, Au.D., Ph.D. (2012)
Dissertation: The influence of informational masking of speech on behavioral testing and self-assessment of speech in noise for young adults with normal hearing.

Amy Nichols, Au.D., Ph.D. (2010)
Dissertation: The relationship of locus of control, self-control and acceptable noise levels for young listeners with normal hearing.


Contact Us and Participation in Research

Susan Gordon-Hickey, Au.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Lab Director
(251) 445-9367

Background Noise Lab
Phone: (251) 445-9394


If you are interested in participating in research on the effects of background noise on communication, please contact Dr. Gordon-Hickey at (251) 445-9367 or

University of South Alabama
Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology
5721 USA Drive North, HAHN 1119
Mobile, AL 36688-0002