PhD degree successfully defended by Anna Josefine Munch Sørensen

Wednesday 07 Jul 21


Bastian Epp
Groupleader, Associate Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 45 25 39 53
On Wednesday 30 June, Anna Josefine Munch Sørensen successfully defended her PhD thesis “The effects of noise and hearing loss on conversational dynamics”.

Participating in conversation is an integral part of human social interaction and having a hearing impairment makes it difficult to communicate, especially in noisy environments. This can lead to hearing-impaired individuals withdrawing from social interactions. We often have to generalize results from tests that only involve one part of communication, either comprehension or production. Conversation, however, involves an overlap between the two, and it is a dynamic feedback process between interlocutors who may adapt to each other's difficulties to alleviate communication barriers. This thesis aimed to find objective measures of conversational dynamics that varied in a systematic way when people experienced increased communication difficulty. When communicating in noise, hearing-impaired test persons were less precise in their timing of turn-taking, they produced longer utterances, and they spoke slower and louder. When receiving compensation for their hearing loss, hearing-impaired people were able to time their responses with higher precision, and they produced shorter utterances.

Josefine’s project aims to better understand conversational behaviour in the presence of noise and hearing loss. Her studies variously explore the effects of noise, talking in a second language, task type, hearing impairment/age, and hearing aid amplification. During the defense, Josefine presented her work eloquently, showing clear ownership of the research in her thesis. The jury found that she demonstrated an obvious grasp of both the wider literature relevant to a multidisciplinary thesis topic and detailed knowledge of very specific elements of earlier work. They unanimously recommended that she should be conferred a PhD degree.

Caption (leftmost): Supervisor Bastian Epp, PhD Anna Josefine Munch Sørensen, (on screen) Ikerbasque Professor Martin Cooke ,Associate Professor Ewen MacDonald, Senior Investigator Scientist William McAllister Whitmer and Associate Professor Jeremy Marozeau. Photo: Casper Munch Hansen.

The defence was held partly online.
Other supervisors and the assessment committee:

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Bastian Epp
Co-supervisor: Associate Professor Ewen MacDonald
Co-supervisor: Senior Scientist Lars Bramsløw
Associate Professor Jeremy Marozeau, DTU Health Tech
Senior Investigator Scientist William McAllister Whitmer, University of Nottingham
Ikerbasque Professor Martin Cooke, University of the Basque Country

Chairperson at defence: Associate Professor Tobias May

More info about the project here