Auditory learning as a cause and treatment of central dysfunction.
Moore DR., Hogan SC., Kacelnik O., Parsons CH., Rose MM., King AJ.
Conductive hearing loss produced by middle ear disease (MED) is very prevalent in the first 5 years of childhood. Both MED in children and prolonged ear plugging in animals lead to a binaural hearing impairment that persists beyond the duration of the peripheral impairment. However, after cessation of the MED, or removal of the ear plug, binaural hearing gradually improves. We suggest here that this improvement is a passive form of auditory learning. We also show that active auditory learning, through repetition of discrimination tasks, can accelerate performance increments, both after hearing loss and in unimpaired individuals. A more detailed understanding of auditory learning holds out the prospect of improving rehabilitation strategies for the language- and hearing-impaired.