Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Supervisor

Dr. Prudence Allen

Abstract

Auditory perception has been shown to be a problem for some children with diagnosed learning, language, reading, or attention disorders. Evaluation of discrimination abilities, as part of an auditory processing test battery, has been recommended but few commercial tools are available for the audiologist to accomplish this task. Few studies have investigated signal feature encoding with children at risk for an auditory processing disorder (APD). The purpose of this project was to investigate signal encoding abilities in children suspected of having APD.

School-aged children, part of a clinical population referred for assessment of their auditory processing skills, participated in the project. To assess signal encoding abilities, an adaptive procedure with feedback was combined with a three alternative forced choice task and presented with graphics in a game-like format. A series of five studies was designed to represent the spectral, level, and temporal features of sound. The series included evaluation of frequency resolution, frequency discrimination, intensity discrimination, temporal resolution and temporal integration.

Results demonstrated that some children in the clinical population have difficulty accurately and efficiently encoding acoustic signal features. Poor performance varied on an individual and group basis across signal encoding tasks but most listeners demonstrated difficulty with spectral and temporal encoding. Elevated and outlying thresholds were not restricted only to the children receiving an APD diagnosis. In addition to the threshold values, trial-by-trial data provided qualitative information about the nature of the poor performance and assisted in differentiating poor signal encoders from children that were inattentive.


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