Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine attention, memory, and auditory processing in children with reported listening difficulty in noise (LDN) despite having clinically normal hearing.
Method: Twenty-one children with LDN and 15 children with no listening concerns (controls) participated. The clinically normed auditory processing tests included the Frequency/ Pitch Pattern Test (FPT; Musiek, 2002), the Dichotic Digits Test (Musiek, 1983), the Listening in Spatialized Noise— Sentences (LiSN–S) test (Dillon, Cameron, Glyde, Wilson, & Tomlin, 2012), gap detection in noise (Baker, Jayewardene, Sayle, & Saeed, 2008), and masking level difference (MLD; Wilson, Moncrieff, Townsend, & Pillion, 2003). Also included were research-based psychoacoustic tasks, such as auditory stream segregation, localization, sinusoidal amplitude modulation (SAM), and fine structure perception. All were also evaluated on attention and memory test batteries.
Results: The LDN group was significantly slower switching their auditory attention and had poorer inhibitory control. Additionally, the group mean results showed significantly poorer performance on FPT, MLD, 4-Hz SAM, and memory tests. Close inspection of the individual data revealed that only 5 participants (out of 21) in the LDN group showed significantly poor performance on FPT compared with clinical norms. Further testing revealed the frequency discrimination of these 5 children to be significantly impaired.
Conclusion: Thus, the LDN group showed deficits in attention switching and inhibitory control, whereas only a subset of these participants demonstrated an additional frequency resolution deficit.