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Why Noise Impacts Children Much More Than Adults

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 8:35:23 PM Australia/Melbourne

Why Noise Impacts Children Much More Than AdultsA lot of the research that we do here at Hearlink, and indeed throughout the industry, frequently backs up what we might have already assumed or thought. There are definitely best practices to ensure maximum capability in audiology, and there are definitely giant red flags which patients should avoid if they’d like to hold on to their hearing. If you knew that you were deathly allergic to peaches, would you make yourself peach jam to have on your morning toast? Probably not. If you knew that you were susceptible to colds, would you embark on a twenty km run through a downpour of rain? We surely hope not! So if you knew that there were certain circumstances or environments that would agitate your hearing, would you frequent them? (Follow the pattern here, people!)


Given the above knowledge, when we tell you that noise is more distracting to a child’s brain than an adult’s, you might say, “well, obviously!” Results of new research were just shared at a meeting of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). The experiment emphatically supported the fact that a child and an adult are going to hear totally different things in a noisy environment.


The experiment itself simulated background noise and then encouraged participants to regurgitate as much of what they heard as possible. The words chosen were meant to pique the interest of the different age groups, like asking the younger demographic to listen for the word “playground.”


The results? The children could only understand clear speech, and much more often if the background noise was at a lower volume. If the volume rose, the number of words understood by children inversely declined. Because children learn language by hearing speech, the findings from this research are indeed particularly important. Adults on the other hand have an experienced brain which chooses to substitute logical choices for information that they may be missing. This isn’t the case with children whose brains haven’t fully developed yet.


One interesting find is that while the results were on opposite ends of the spectrum for adults and children, it wasn’t just younger children whose comprehension was low throughout the exercise. While the ability to process speech and to understand language really matures in adolescence, this is an age group that was greatly impacted as well. “We tend to think bustling environments and creating background noise is stimulating for kids,” says Nan Bernstein Ratner, child language specialist. “What’s stimulating on the part of the parent may not be for the child.”


AT least one thing is clear from all of this research. At any age, no matter how young or mature you are, we feed off of the environments around us, each of our senses does. As audiologists, this causes us to be hyper aware about creating targeted environments for treatment. As patients and members of the community, make sure that you’re keeping your hearing in mind in today’s busy and bustling world.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin