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XR1.2 Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) and Communication


despite early detection of hearing loss through universal newborn screening programs, and provision of amplification and/or intervention at an early age, many children exhibit delays in language during preschool years. Using specialised facilities at the MARCS Baby Lab (University of Western Sydney) and those previously identified at the Australian Hearing Hub (AHH), the early precursors of linguistic development are being investigated by studies evaluating:

  • how speech, language and literacy abilities of hearing-impaired children change over time as the child develops, and what brain mechanisms underlie deficits in these areas;
  • what factors in infancy influence language development, and how hearing-impaired children that are likely to develop poor language skills can be detected early in life so that additional remediation can be provided; and
  • how the brain reacts to and uses input supplied by hearing aids and cochlear implants.

To support this work, studies using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) are investigating neural connectivity in the brain for (i) children with normal versus delayed language, and (ii) children from non-tonal (e.g. English) and tonal language backgrounds (e.g. Mandarin Chinese) – the latter of great importance given it is spoken by one-third of the world’s population.

Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies are being used to identify subjective (e.g. parent reports on infant vocal production) and objective (e.g. electrophysiological responses) approaches to predicting future speech perception and language abilities in infants. The work will also identify critical skills to target in early speech intervention.

XR1.2.1 Methods For Identifying and Diagnosing Hearing Disorders In Children

This project will determine what tests are needed to detect and diagnose specific central auditory processing disorders, or hearing disorders, that can impede a child’s language or literacy abilities.

Project Leader: A/Prof. Mridula Sharma


XR1.2.2 Identification of Long-term Consequences of Middle-ear Infections in Early Childhood

This project will determine what auditory processing disorders are caused by early Otitis Media and their possible language, reading and other developmental consequences from having underlying auditory processing deficits.

Project Leader: A/Prof. Gary Rance

XR1.2.3 Development of a Clinical Objective Measure of Tinnitus Perception

This project is examining how can tinnitus be measured objectively.

Project Leader: Prof. Catherine McMahon

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