Child Hearing Research takes place in the Child Hearing Research Laboratory and the Child Amplification laboratory.
The development of hearing and listening abilities in young children is studied through projects that address how normally developing children process auditory information and how those abilities change with maturation. Other studies include how processing may be disrupted in children with language and/or learning disorders, how auditory and learning skills may be affected by poor acoustic environments, and how performance on behavioural tests correlates with physiologic development as derived from evoked potential studies.
Current research in the Child Hearing Research Laboratory is examining auditory processing disorders in school-aged children. Using advanced audiologic diagnostic methods that employ both behavioural and electrophysiological technologies were are examining supra-threshold function in children with no evidence of hearing loss. These children have normal hearing sensitivity but significant problems in learning through the auditory modality and in processing auditory signals such as speech in difficult listening situations. Complementing that work is our research in developmental psychoacoustics. By understanding the development of normal auditory skills we can better understand how children acquaint themselves with their auditory world and learn using their hearing. By mapping normal auditory development as it proceeds from preschool through the school-aged years we are in a better position to meet the auditory learning needs of normally developing children as well as assess the auditory skills of children with learning difficulties and avoid confusing maturational delays with clinical deficiencies. Other research focuses on the impact of noise on children’s academic abilities including reading and vocabulary development.
The process of selecting and fitting hearing aids and assistive listening devices for infants, toddlers, and children is a focus area of the Child Amplification Laboratory. Improved techniques for relating the hearing test to hearing aid fitting, and for measuring and prescribing hearing aid performance are studied.
The techniques developed are now being applied to select and fit hearing aids in clinics throughout the world. The results of this research are disseminated to the broad community of audiologists and hearing aid specialists through scientific publications and the distribution of the Desired Sensation Level (DSL) software system and method for hearing aid prescription and fitting.