Auditory processing disorders with and without central auditory discrimination deficits.

Alexandra Annemarie Ludwig, Michael Fuchs, Eberhard Kruse, Brigitte Uhlig, Sonja Annette Kotz, Rudolf Rübsamen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Auditory processing disorder (APD) is defined as a processing deficit in the auditory modality and spans multiple processes. To date, APD diagnosis is mostly based on the utilization of speech material. Adequate nonspeech tests that allow differentiation between an actual central hearing disorder and related disorders such as specific language impairments are still not adequately available. In the present study, 84 children between 6 and 17 years of age (clinical group), referred to three audiological centers for APD diagnosis, were evaluated with standard audiological tests and additional auditory discrimination tests. Latter tests assessed the processing of basic acoustic features at two different stages of the ascending central auditory system: (1) auditory brainstem processing was evaluated by quantifying interaural frequency, level, and signal duration discrimination (interaural tests). (2) Diencephalic/telencephalic processing was assessed by varying the same acoustic parameters (plus signals with sinusoidal amplitude modulation), but presenting the test signals in conjunction with noise pulses to the contralateral ear (dichotic(signal/noise) tests). Data of children in the clinical group were referenced to normative data obtained from more than 300 normally developing healthy school children. The results in the audiological and the discrimination tests diverged widely. Of the 39 children that were diagnosed with APD in the audiological clinic, 30 had deficits in auditory performance. Even more alarming was the fact that of the 45 children with a negative APD diagnosis, 32 showed clear signs of a central hearing deficit. Based on these results, we suggest revising current diagnostic procedure to evaluate APD in order to more clearly differentiate between central auditory processing deficits and higher-order (cognitive and/or language) processing deficits.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)441-464
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


    • APD
    • Central auditory processing
    • Children
    • Clinical
    • Discrimination performance
    • Pure tone


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