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Central Auditory Processing Disorders

Receptive language understanding depends upon correct receipt and coding of the auditory signal by the middle and inner ear, as well as upon the brain’s ability to decode the signal. Simply stated, the ear receives the signal and the brain interprets it. While the receptive function of the ear is well-developed early in life, the brain’s ability to interpret sound changes over the first 12 years of existence.

Hearing is noise is perhaps the most difficult decoding situation the brain faces. Disorders of the system become most evident in situations such as the classroom, restaurants, or social settings where a large amount of baseline noise exists to compete with the speech signal individuals are attempting to understand. The affected individual may have normal ear function (as judged by an audiogram) and still have a significant abnormality of auditory system function. In adults, this may impact work performance, social ease and the like. In children, school performance or behavior issues in a school setting are the most common indicators of abnormalities.

Treatment is available for children with the disorder that may include alleviation of problems with the middle ear function (such as long-term middle ear fluid), training or therapy efforts, assistive listening devices (such as FM systems), or hearing devices. Adults also have treatment options to cope with the existing abnormality to allow more normal function.




California Ear Institute