By Dr. Gail Chermak
Coming soon: Web-based auditory training exercises—Sound Auditory Training—developed by Gail Chermak, Frank Musiek, and Jeffrey Weihing. Based on a wealth of empirical evidence on the neuroscience, diagnosis and treatment of central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), Sound Auditory Training is designed to train auditory processing skills in children, adults, and older adults with CAPD as well as other clinical populations, such as patients with cochlear implants. Sound Auditory Training (SAT) makes available well controlled stimuli that can be customized to exercise a number of fundamental auditory skills. In addition to training, SAT provides clinicians with a toolset to design one’s own training tasks and evaluate auditory skills, and provides clinical scientists with highly accessible stimuli to design psychoacoustic procedures. While the developers offer general guidelines for selecting specific tasks and setting parameters based on clinical profiles, SAT is not a program nor is it a test. Rather, SAT is toolset that includes adaptable auditory stimuli, a range of auditory tasks, and engaging graphic interfaces to meet the clinical or research needs of the professional.
The prevalence of CAPD is estimated at 5% of school-aged children and up to 70% of adults and older adults experiencing hearing and listening problems. The underlying impairments of individuals with CAPD are varied and not currently reducible to a single deficit. Auditory processing deficits frequently are seen in a number of other disorders including learning disabilities, dyslexia, language impairment, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and autism. In order to properly describe and treat basic auditory deficits that can affect listening, communication, and learning, one needs to have a flexible, but easy to use tool that spans temporal, spectral, and binaural processing. The architecture of Sound Auditory Training incorporates the flexibility necessary to adapt stimuli for training regimens to meet the needs of particular individuals. The software provides the flexibility to train in either a game environment for children or a more standard psychophysical paradigm for adults.
Sound Auditory Training relies on adaptive algorithms (i.e., the program changes in response to the user’s performance), flexible feedback to the user (via animations or counters), and flexible parameter settings for the clinician/clinical scientist, parents, educators, and users. Tasks train intensity, frequency, and temporal detection, discrimination, and identification using a variety of non-verbal (e.g., tones, noise) and minimally loaded verbal stimuli (e.g., consonant-vowel syllables). Immediate feedback (error correction and reinforcement) is provided through animations within the game. Skills are practiced intensively until they become habitual and automatic. The exercises are sequenced to challenge but not overwhelm the participant. The clinician can use the software to obtain a more comprehensive profile of an individual’s skill strengths and skill deficits in order to more efficiently and effectively target and train deficit areas on a variety of auditory tasks.
In addition to its usefulness to clinical professionals, Sound Auditory Training is designed to be accessible to parents and teachers so that the exercises can be administered in a non-clinical environment. It is also designed to meet the needs of researchers to serve as a tool for investigation of auditory psychophysics, especially with children. The flexibility of the program allows updates based in research and thus promotes evidence-based practice.
Sound Auditory Training provides auditory training exercises that encompass a wide range of auditory processing skills. There is no other product like it! Most important, Sound Auditory Training exercises auditory skills which are most likely to have a meaningful impact on a person’s listening, communication, and learning.