Learning to Hear: Understanding Speech in Noise from Infancy to Adolescence

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marshall Ballroom South (Marriott Wardman Park)
Lori Leibold, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, NE
Children have more difficulty than adults when listening to speech in the presence of competing background sounds, particularly when the background sounds are also speech. Children’s increased susceptibility to interference from competing talkers is an important public health problem because children spend most of their days in environments that include multiple people talking at the same time. This presentation will focus on data indicating that the ability to hear and understand speech in the presence of competing talkers remains immature into the adolescent years. While these environments are challenging for children who are typically developing, emerging new findings indicate that hearing loss exacerbates the difficulties all children have in noisy environments. Extensive listening experience and neural maturation are required for children to master the perceptual skills required to hear and understanding speech in the types of environments they encounter in their everyday lives.