Noise disrupts the neural coding of consonants more than vowels. Listening in noise presents a challenge for everybody, but particularly to children whose language skills are underdeveloped. This team views background noise as a disruption to the necessary neural mechanisms for language development. By using electrophysiological evaluation and standardised tests, three metrics were found to be predictive of how well a child would perform in preliteracy tests at age three and four. These metrics recorded in response to consonants included: the rapidity of response; consistency of the response across trials; and its harmonic representation. Furthermore, electrophysiology could correctly identify 75% of children with a learning disability and 90% of children with typical development. Electrophysiology, therefore, being a quick and objective test could be a marker for early literacy. Could this mean a future for introducing targeted listening-in-noise training to young children to enhance language development? 

Listening in the din: a factor in learning disabilities?
Kraus N, White-Schwoch T.
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Linnea Cheung

Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey, UK.

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