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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multiple Auditory Processing Assessment as a tool to quantify hidden hearing loss Tai, Charlotte


Purpose: Hidden hearing loss, also known as cochlear synaptopathy, describes auditory deficits in individuals with clinically normal hearing sensitivity in the conventional frequency range (250–8000 Hz) which include difficulty understanding speech in background noise. Individuals with central auditory processing disorder report similar complaints. We aimed to investigate the utility of a central auditory processing test battery, the Multiple Auditory Processing Assessment (MAPA), as a potential diagnostic tool for hidden hearing loss. An additional objective was exploration of the link between noise exposure and hidden hearing loss. Previous studies on mice have found a reduction in hair cell synaptic connections subsequent to noise exposure. Design: Three groups of participants completed the MAPA: a control group (n = 24), a musician group (n = 20), and a symptomatic group (n = 11). The control group had young individuals with normal hearing (≤ 25 dB HL thresholds at 250–8000 Hz) and no significant history of noise exposure, the musician group had young students with normal hearing who were considered to be at high risk for noise exposure due to their studies, and the symptomatic group had individuals with normal hearing who reported difficulties in challenging listening environments. Lifetime noise exposure was estimated using the Noise Exposure Structured Interview (NESI), and Bayesian logistic regression was used to model the relationship between the outcomes of MAPA subtests and noise exposure history. Results: The symptomatic group exhibited poorer performance on the MAPA compared to the control and musician groups. A right-ear advantage for all groups was apparent on several measures. The musician group had higher estimated lifetime noise exposure compared to the other groups. With the exception of the dichotic advantage score, NESI scores did not predict performance on the MAPA. Conclusion: Consistent with their reported difficulties, the symptomatic group performed more poorly on the MAPA. Despite their higher estimated lifetime noise exposure, no noise-induced central auditory processing deficits emerged in the musician group. Future studies should include older musicians with more lifetime noise exposure, and adjust for age effects by using a longitudinal study design or by age-matching across participant groups.

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