Auditory pathway encoding and neural plasticity in children with learning problems

Nina Kraus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


An inability to process auditory information, especially speech, characterizes many children with learning and attention problems. Our working hypothesis is that these speech-sound perception problems arise, at least in some cases, from faulty representation of the speech signal in central auditory centers. Preconscious neurophysiologic representation of sound structure by central auditory pathway neurons can be reflected by subcortical and cortical aggregate neural responses. These neurophysiologic responses can be modified by perceptual learning. Our research has shown that some children with learning problems demonstrate abnormal perception and neural representation of certain speech sounds. Differences between normal and learning-impaired groups can be attributable to aspects of neural synchrony that are reflected in aggregate neural responses. Deficiencies in neural synchrony in these children are apparent in subcortical (as well as cortical) representations of speech-sound structure, and these timing deficits are related to performance on speech-sound perception and learning measures. Moreover, impaired perception and neurophysiologic encoding of speech sounds can be improved with cue enhancement and can be modified by perceptual learning associated with auditory training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalAudiology and Neuro-Otology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Auditory pathway
  • Evoked responses
  • Learning
  • Learning disorders
  • Neural plasticity
  • Perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Speech and Hearing


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