Sensory Processing of Backward-Masking Signals in Children With Language-Learning Impairment As Assessed With the Auditory Brainstem Response

Marler, Jeffrey A.; Champlin, Craig A.
February 2005
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2005, Vol. 48 Issue 1, p189
Academic Journal
The purpose of this study was to examine the possible contribution of sensory mechanisms to an auditory processing deficit shown by some children with language-learning impairment (LLI). Auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were measured from 2 groups of school-aged (8-10 years) children. One group consisted of 10 children with LLI, and the other group (control) consisted of 10 children with normally developing language. The ABR was elicited with a brief tone burst presented either alone (no-masking condition) or immediately followed by a longer duration noise burst (backward-masking condition). The primary dependent variable was the latency of wave V of the ABR. The mean latencies were not significantly different for the 2 groups in the no-masking condition. However, in the backward-masking condition, the mean latency for the LLI group was significantly increased relative to the mean latency for the control group. Thus, the presence of successive sounds delay the neural response in children with LLI. The explanation for this delay at the level of the brainstem is not known, but it may be due to disruption of synchrony, activation of alternate (less direct) pathways, increased inhibition, or some combination of these (or other) factors.


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