Auditory Processing and Cognitive Abilities in Children

Auditory Processing and Cognitive Abilities in Children

October 09, 2015 In the News

Tomlin et al (2015) examined links between auditory processing (AP) test results, cognitive tests (sustained attention, auditory working memory, non-verbal intelligence), and functional listening deficits. The authors note that “AP is the link between sound detection and the extraction of meaning” from the sound. They state that “inefficient AP is assumed to result in compromised listening ability” and they note the term “auditory processing disorder” (APD) is an “umbrella term” diagnosis reflecting pass/fail performance across a multitude of AP behavioral tasks. Tomlin et al report that APD definitions and the relationship between AP and cognitive abilities varies greatly between professional bodies. They report some studies indicate APD and cognitive disorders are independent problems, others indicate APD is a cognitive disorder.  Based on 1,469 children with normal hearing, Moore et al (2010) concluded that APD is a problem of auditory attention.

One hundred and fifty five (155) children aged 7 to 12 years were evaluated. Fifty (50) of the children served as controls, one hundred and five were referred for AP evaluations and all children had normal peripheral hearing. AP was measured using; Frequency Pattern Test (FPT), Dichotic Digit Tests (DTT), Gaps in Noise (GIN), Masking Level Differences (MLD), and Listening in Spatialized Noise – Sentences (LISN-S) tests. Cognition was assessed via tests of working memory, IQ, and sustained attention. Functional listening ability was assessed via questionnaires from the teacher, parent, and child.

Tomlin et al concluded “top-down cognitive processes significantly influence, or are at least correlated with, a subgroup of AP scores. Cognitive abilities significantly predict a child’s reported listening ability and reading fluency, while AP ability (as measured here) does not, once cognitive abilities are allowed for….” They state cognitive deficits may be the key to perceived listening and academic difficulties and significantly impact AP test results. The authors state that “…it is very likely that many children currently diagnosed with APD are actually experiencing real-life difficulties as a result of their cognitive deficit, not as a consequence of having a pure APD….”

For More Information, References, and Recommendations

Tomlin D, Dillon H, Sharma M, Rance G. (2015) The Impact of Auditory Processing and Cognitive Abilities in Children. Ear & Hearing 36(5):527-542.

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