NHBRU and IHR in Nottingham, PhD in Experimental Psychology

Effect of auditory training and hearing instruments on cognitive development in children with mild hearing loss

with Dr Johanna Barry and Mrs Melanie Ferguson
johanna@ihr.mrc.ac.uk, melanie.ferguson@nottingham.ac.uk

Mild hearing loss is the most prevalent form of hearing loss, particularly in children. However, as most research has been done in children with clinically significant hearing loss, the exact incidence, and the consequences, of mild hearing loss in children remain unknown. Some recent work in our laboratory using population-based data suggests the even mild hearing loss can have a negative impact on a child’s cognitive and linguistic development. Unfortunately, mild hearing loss remains undetected in many children, and parents are often unaware of the potential consequences of this (Cone et al., 2010). This project aims to gain new insights into the potential effects of mild hearing loss on auditory and cognitive development, and to seek new ways of remediating these effects.

The project will focus on two broad questions. The first question is whether the use of assistive hearing devices, such as hearing aids or personal listening devices, could help to lessen the detrimental effects of mild hearing loss on auditory and cognitive development. The second question is whether auditory and cognitive development in children with mild hearing loss could be improved by a dedicated programme of auditory training. The project will involve developing and applying a combination of cognitive and perceptual tasks to answer these questions.

Applications are welcome from graduates with a first- or upper second-class degree in a relevant discipline, such as paediatric audiology, psychology or speech and language therapy.

Cone BK, Wake M, Tobin S, Poulakis Z, Rickards FW (2010). Slight-mild sensorineural hearing loss in children: audiometric, clinical, and risk factor profiles. Ear Hear 31, 202-212.