Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University

The Role of Auditory Experience in the Neurobiological Systems for Effortful Listening

ID: 3587
Status: Ongoing
Start date: January 2018
End Date: December 2019


Current models of auditory cognition suggest that cognitive resources for processing degraded acoustic information are limited, creating a trade-off between effort and comprehension. Indeed, everyday listening frequently occurs under a wide range of inescapable suboptimal and adverse conditions, challenges which are exacerbated by reduced hearing acuity and the use of imperfect hearing amplification and prosthetic devices. In a cognitive neuroscience experiment using optical neuroimaging, we assess: (A) the effects of early-life sensitive windows on the neuroplasticity and stability of language processing networks in response to early-life, chronic exposure to acoustically degraded speech; and (B) the strength of the relationship between self-reported global health, subjective mental effort ratings, and neural activation patterns for different listening conditions. Advancing these scientific questions allows us to better understand of the complex nature of neuroplasticity and early-life sensitive windows for language processing, and ultimately informs us of the underlying cognitive mechanisms that play a role in spoken language outcomes for hearing aid and cochlear implant users. This work has profound implications for transformative translational impacts across several domains, such as educational practice and policy, aural (re)habilitation clinical practice approaches, and assessment of clinical health outcomes. Ultimately, this work will advance several scientific and societal questions regarding the role of deafness mediated by hearing technologies in certain cognitive functions, such as language processing and comprehension, effort, stress, and fatigue. These advancements could improve overall health and quality of life outcomes in those with hearing loss.

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White, B. E. (2018, May). The role of auditory experience on the neurobiological systems for effortful listening. Presented at the Neuroimaging with fNIRS: Basic to Advanced Concepts workshop hosted by NIRx Medical Technologies, Gallaudet University, National Science Foundation and Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning, and the Gallaudet University Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) Program, Washington, DC.

White, B. E., & Langdon, C. (2018, August). Hierarchical processing of degraded speech: A functional near-infrared spectroscopy study. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Québec City, Québec, Canada.

White, B. E., & Langdon, C. (2018, January). Auditory experience and the neurobiological systems for effortful listening: A combined optical neuroimaging and thermal imaging study. Presented at the Mid-Atlantic Symposium on Hearing, College Park, MD.

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