Dr. Kumari Anshu
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Litovsky Lab
Sound localization and speech intelligibility in young adults with Down syndrome
At the Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab, our research focuses on studying functional hearing abilities. In other words, we try to understand the auditory perceptual skills that allow us to function in the often-chaotic auditory environments found in daily life. We study children and adults with typical hearing as well as those who are hearing impaired and receive cochlear implants. Recently, with the help of a team of collaborators, we started a new line of research in individuals with Down syndrome who have a very high prevalence of hearing loss as compared to typically developing individuals.
Down syndrome is a developmental disorder affecting multiple systems in the body. Intellectual disability and communication delays are central characteristics of the Down syndrome phenotype. Importantly, up to 75% of people with Down syndrome may experience impaired hearing at some point in their life. The hearing loss can range from mild to severe and can in some cases, be present at birth. Among typically developing children, chronic hearing loss is known to have adverse consequences on auditory perceptual skills such as sound localization and speech intelligibility in the presence of noise. However, very little is known about associations between hearing loss and functional hearing abilities in individuals with Down Syndrome. Understanding these associations will enable us to determine strategies to support and include them in the mainstream.
In my talk, I will present findings from a recent study in the lab in which we evaluated sound localization and speech intelligibility skills in young adults with Down syndrome. I will also discuss how their performance on these auditory tasks are moderated by their hearing loss and cognitive ability.