Central Auditory Dysfunction

by Carol Gomes


Central auditory dysfunction is also known as auditory processing disorder. Central auditory processing disorder is essentially a neurological dysfunction that results in the impairment of neural pathways of the brain that link the ear with the central auditory system. In such a scenario, the ear works properly but the parts of the brain that interpret and analyze the auditory information do not function.

People affected by central auditory processing disorder have problems comprehending speech. At this point it makes sense to clarify the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physiological process that involves the detection of sound. Listening is an active attentional process that is based on binaural hearing. Listening develops in the latter part of childhood and is greatly influenced by factors such as - noise, fatigue, anxiety, motivation and interest and speed of processing.

Listed below are some of the possible indicators of central auditory processing dysfunction:

  1. Speech problems
  2. May seem deaf at some occasions but hears the slightest sounds at other occasions.
  3. Producing sounds like banging doors, tapping things, making vocalizations, etc.
  4. Covers ears even if there are no loud sounds (as if hearing sounds which other people do not hear)
  5. Light sleep
  6. Inability in concentrating in noisy environments.
  7. Gets easily distracted.
  8. Might display extreme auditory inattention and could also have trouble paying attention.
  9. There could be fine or gross motor skill deficits.

Often the reading and or spelling skills may be poor.

Central auditory processing dysfunction is closely related to the following disorders and could be confused with any of these prior to a differential diagnosis -

  1. Learning disabilities
  2. Dyslexia
  3. Attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity
  4. Developmental disabilities and mental retardation.

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