HERE we report that training-associated changes in neural activity can precede behavioral learning. This finding suggests that speech-sound learning occurs at a pre-attentive level which can be measured neurophysiologically (in the absence of a behavioral response) to assess the efficacy of training. Children with biologically based perceptual learning deficits as well as people who wear cochlear implants or hearing aids undergo various forms of auditory training. The effectiveness of auditory training can be difficult to assess using behavioral methods because these populations are communicatively impaired and may have attention and/or cognitive deficits. Based on our findings, if neurophysiological changes are seen during auditory training, then the training method is effectively altering the neural representation of the speech/sounds and changes in behavior are likely to follow.
1House Ear Institute, Electrophysiology Department, 2100 W. Third St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
2Northwestern University, Auditory NeuroScience Laboratory, 2299 N. Campus Dr., Evanston, IL 60208, USA
3Corresponding Author: K. Tremblay
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The authors thank S. Zecker, M. Don, C. Ponton andD.R.F. Irvine for their contributions to this study as well as D. Burton-Koch and B. Kwong for their editorial assistance. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01 DC 01510 as well as the American Academy of Audiology (student investigator award).
Received 2 September 1998; accepted 8 September 1998
Website publication 19 November 1998