Project Details

Piloting divided-attention versus directed attention dichotic listening and alternating inter-aural listening development in children: a step towards identifying Cantonese-speaking children with auditory processing disorder

Some children have more difficulties in understanding spoken messages than their peers. This problem is exacerbated in the presence of background noise, or when speech is rapid or degraded. If their problems in understanding spoken messages cannot be explained by either peripheral hearing loss, language disorder, attention deficit, or other higher cognitive or related dysfunctions, then such children may be considered at risk for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) (ASHA, 2005; Jerger & Musiek, 2000). Based on the estimation from Moore (2006), of the 1.37 million Hong Kong children up to 19 years of age (Census and Statistics Department of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, 2007), up to 96,500 children are suffering from APD. Nevertheless, services offered to children with APD are scarce due to a lack of diagnostic clinical tools. There are behavioral (Bellis & Ferre, 1999; Moncrieff & Musiek, 2002) and electrophysiological (Kraus et al., 1996; Wible, Nicol, & Kraus, 2005) evidences on the association between auditory processing difficulties and language or learning difficulties. Even mild APD, if left undiagnosed and untreated in early childhood years, may have significant impact on social, communication, language and academic competences and other life functions (Heine & Slone, 2008). Unfortunately, if the child reaches adolescence before the auditory processing problem surfaces, there may be a problem in coping with high academic demands. In Hong Kong diagnostic tools to indentify children with APD are scare and the only available tool (2007) had test reliability issues. Dichotic listening (DL) tests are key diagnostic tools for APD (Jerger, 2007). In DL tests, two different acoustic stimuli are presented one to each ear simultaneously. To our knowledge, lexical tones have not been used in any developmental studies on DL. Cantonese words with the same phonemic composition but different pitch patterns represent totally different meanings. For example, /ji1/ and /ji6/ with high level and low level pitch patterns are two different lexical tones meaning clothing and two, respectively. The degree to which the right ear outperforms the left ear in DL tests is known as the right ear advantage (REA). REA decreases with age, reflecting the maturation of left hemisphere dominance for language. We propose a pilot cross-sectional developmental study on lexical tone dichotic listening in Cantonese-speaking children for planning a large-scale normative developmental study. The outcomes will offer valuable and reliable normative data to contribute to the test battery for differentially diagnose APD in children. We have developed an innovative behavioral testing procedure which has been proven feasible to engage children for the required testing conditions.

Commencement Date : 2011/2
Completion Date : 2012/5
Chief Investigator(s) : Dr YUEN, Chi Pun 袁志彬 [SEC]
Co-Investigator(s) : JERGER, James *
YUAN, Meng *
KAM, Anna *
Keyword(s) : Dichotic Listening   Divided and Directed-attention   Auditory Processing Disorder   Right Ear Advantage   Lexical Tone  

*Investigator from an outside institution/organization

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