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ERIC Number: EJ1158343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Oct
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1092-4388
Cortical and Sensory Causes of Individual Differences in Selective Attention Ability among Listeners with Normal Hearing Thresholds
Shinn-Cunningham, Barbara
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v60 n10 p2976-2988 Oct 2017
Purpose: This review provides clinicians with an overview of recent findings relevant to understanding why listeners with normal hearing thresholds (NHTs) sometimes suffer from communication difficulties in noisy settings. Method: The results from neuroscience and psychoacoustics are reviewed. Results: In noisy settings, listeners focus their attention by engaging cortical brain networks to suppress unimportant sounds; they then can analyze and understand an important sound, such as speech, amidst competing sounds. Differences in the efficacy of top-down control of attention can affect communication abilities. In addition, subclinical deficits in sensory fidelity can disrupt the ability to perceptually segregate sound sources, interfering with selective attention, even in listeners with NHTs. Studies of variability in control of attention and in sensory coding fidelity may help to isolate and identify some of the causes of communication disorders in individuals presenting at the clinic with "normal hearing." Conclusions: How well an individual with NHTs can understand speech amidst competing sounds depends not only on the sound being audible but also on the integrity of cortical control networks and the fidelity of the representation of suprathreshold sound. Understanding the root cause of difficulties experienced by listeners with NHTs ultimately can lead to new, targeted interventions that address specific deficits affecting communication in noise.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 2200 Research Blvd #250, Rockville, MD 20850. Tel: 301-296-5700; Fax: 301-296-8580; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: R13DC003383; R01DC013825