Auditory Perception – Definition, Components, Development and Deficits

The perception auditory to the visual as it may seem a simple process is not, because it requires the use of several areas of the brain that specialize in this kind of perception and recognition of its subcomponents. For example: This is your house and suddenly the phone rings, when you answer it is your mother who calls and at that very moment you can recognize her voice, what she says and the state of mind in which she speaks to you.

What is auditory perception?

It refers to the brain’s ability to interpret and create a clear impression of sounds. Good listening skills enable people to distinguish between different tones, volumes, rhythms, and sources of sounds and words, which has, among others, significant benefits for learning to read.

Auditory perception begins before birth, during development, the human brain becomes a highly specialized system for the perceptual, memory and semantic functions necessary to understand and produce language and enjoy music. The milestones of this step-by-step development have their foundations in neural development and are closely related to auditory exposure and communicative actions in childhood.

The newborn’s brain can now recognize familiar voices and melodies from the fetal period. In addition, they learn new sounds quickly and pay close attention to the combination of visual and auditory information, they are interested in matching what they hear with what they see, then they learn the correspondences between certain phonemes and their sounds, and the way the lips , the tongue and larynx move to produce them.

Some skills develop during the fetal period, while others are more “hardwired.” During the first few years, auditory perception becomes so precise and efficient that it enables rapid speech understanding even in noisy conditions, enjoyment of music, and detailed retrieval of information from ambient sounds.

What are the components of auditory perception?

The following aspects are all important in accurate auditory perception, where in each of them certain activities can be done that can be carried out to help the child with a hearing impairment:

Auditory background figure

It allows to focus on a sound among a background of other sounds, children need this skill to be able to hear the voice of their teacher in a noisy classroom.

  • Play music in the background, while giving the child different instructions, see if you can hear what you are saying against the background music and use a softer tone of voice to make it more difficult.
  • Whisper instructions and see if the child can execute the instructions correctly.
  • Record noises in and around the house , play the recording to the child and ask him to identify the sounds, you can also play soft music in the background to make this task more challenging and ask him to guess whether the sound is near or far.

Auditive discrimination

It is the ability to hear similarities and differences between sounds and spelling skills. For example, perceive the difference between “tomato” and “take yourself.”

  • Take five glasses, fill them at different heights with water, and let the child use a spoon to tap against the side of each glass and have him listen to the different sounds they make.
  • Play around with rhyming words (for example, “The fat cat sat on the rug patting the rat with his hat”).
  • Play with popular rhymes or popular songs , replacing as many rhyming words with similar sounding words. Have a competition to see who can make up the dumbest rhyme or put together a book of your own lullabies.
  • Play «Simon Says».

Auditory closure

Allow the child to complete or add sounds that were not heard, to understand what was heard. For example, when the teacher talks and a truck passes by, they may only hear the sound the truck makes and need a hearing aid to understand that the teacher meant “Go get your book.”

  • Play the following guessing game: Give the children the first syllables of a word and ask them to “guess” what word you are trying to say. Aero… (line); Dino… (saur); Rhinoceros); Hippo… (tamos); etc.
  • Closely connected to the auditory closure is the process of syllabification (dividing words into their different syllables). Teach the clapping game , where you ask children to ‘clap the different parts of words’. Initially, they may need some guidance with this task, but they are usually picked up quite quickly as syllables form a natural part of speech. It is also important to start with short words (for example, bird, clap) and then progressively move on to words with more syllables (for example, spider, two claps; fa – mi – lia, three claps) and so on with words longer.

Auditory spatial awareness

It allows to determine the direction from which a sound comes, therefore, the source of the sound, this ability allows the child to hear sounds in the correct sequence, that is, “state of mind” and not “fatality”.

  • Blindfold the child, ask them to sit in the middle of the room. Walk around the room calling for the child (or shake a bell / rattle) and have him point out where he is.
  • Play “Marco, Polo” with a group of friends. This game does not necessarily have to be played in the pool, but can be played in the garden or at home, just remember to clear the room of furniture to avoid injury from children bumping into furniture or tripping on loose rugs.

Auditory analysis and auditory synthesis

Analysis refers to the ability to break words into syllables (and also the ability to break sentences into words), that is, ca – myseta, this skill is essential for accurate spelling. Auditory synthesis refers to the ability to put sounds or words together to form a new word or phrase, it is the skill that forms the basis for reading.

  • Syllabification (dividing words into their different syllables) is also an important part of this process. You can play the clapping game mentioned above.
  • Play “I spy” , for example, “spying with my little eye something that begins with a P.” You can also adapt this game to focus on different parts of words, for example, “I spy with my little eye something that ends tion (eg can tion / bendi tion / shape tion ). The game version, if used with simple words, could be easier for very young children and acts as an easy introduction to rhyme.
  • Say the different sounds in short words and have the children ” guess what word the sounds make “.

Auditory memory

It is the ability to memorize the information received from the ears.

Clap different sequences with your hands , asking the child to copy you, use longer sequences as children get older.

  • Play «Mommy went to the store». In this game, the children (or any family member they want) sit in a circle and one person begins the game by saying, for example: “Mum went to the store and bought flour”, the person on the left repeats this sentence and then add another item, for example, “Mom went to the store and bought flour and apples.” The game goes round and round the circle with each person adding another item to the list until someone finally forgets to name one of the items on the list, it can be difficult for young children to remember in the correct sequence, but children should be encouraged. older children to name them, you can also change the context of the game, for example: “We went to the zoo / circus / aquarium / park / farm and we saw …”, this will also help children with their categorization skills later on.
  • Ask your child to recite his home number, office number, and cell phone number, as well as the number of friends and other family members.
  • Have the children help you remember your shopping list.

Development of auditory perception

It depends on three things: the proper transduction of sound waves into electrical signals, the filtering of background noise, and the reconstruction of complex sound patterns into recognizable bytes.

Small changes in air pressure move the tympanic membrane and its attached hammer, which displaces the stapes and incus. The movement of the incus against the oval window of the cochlea affects the fluid within the scala vestibuli and indirectly the scala tympani and the scala media, these changes affect the basilar membrane of the cochlea.

The basilar membrane is a small connective tissue structure, which varies in width and thickness along its length of 33 mm, due to this, various areas will be affected differently, depending on the frequency, amplitude and intensity of the fluid wave.

Depending on how the basilar membrane moves, the hair cells will be driven to excitatory, inhibitory, or neutral positions. Therefore, the mechanical stimulus of the wave is transduced into an electrical signal, this signal is sent through the nerve of the cochlea towards the nucleus and towards the central auditory pathways towards the cortex.

Along this path, the signals are processed and analyzed. The process by which these electrical signals are translated into the symbolic context of language or vice versa involves many areas of the cerebral cortex, and it is unclear and goes further, however it is important to recognize that language processing involves many different areas. of the cortex, including areas related to the integration of visual or somatosensory information. Consequently, language processing abnormalities, such as dyslexia , can be the result of disturbances in the integration of visual information or distorted information.

Auditory perception depends on our alertness

Sound, which is transformed in the ear into a neural signal, is processed in the brain at several different levels:

  • A reflection where the arrival of the message makes us jump or turn our heads.
  • The auditory cortex where sound is perceived.
  • Other areas of the brain, which allow perception to become conscious, recognize the sound by comparing it with those that have been previously memorized and determine an appropriate voluntary response.

Auditory perception deficits associated with dyslexia

Many recent studies have investigated auditory processing skills in “well compensated” dyslexic adults who may no longer have reading problems.

There are reasons for caution in interpreting some of these studies. First , such participants are likely to differ from those in the childhood samples who are recruited at the time they have reading problems. Second , the inability to find a difference between dyslexic adults and controls on an auditory processing task does not rule out the possibility that an earlier developmental deficit has compromised the development of phonological representations.

Slow or delayed development of a process (albeit along normal lines) can alter the course of development of a related process over a sensitive period.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.