Auditory Training: Evidence for Neural Plasticity in Older Adults Improvements in digital amplification, cochlear implants, and other innovations have extended the potential for improving hearing function; yet, there remains a need for further hearing improvement in challenging listening situations, such as when trying to understand speech in noise or when listening to music. Here, we review evidence from animal ... Article
Article  |   May 01, 2013
Auditory Training: Evidence for Neural Plasticity in Older Adults
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Samira Anderson
    Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Communication Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
    Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
  • Nina Kraus
    Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, Departments of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology and Physiology, Otolaryngology, Institute for Neuroscience, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Disclosure: Samira Anderson and Nina Kraus have no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Samira Anderson and Nina Kraus have no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   May 01, 2013
Auditory Training: Evidence for Neural Plasticity in Older Adults
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, May 2013, Vol. 17, 37-57. doi:10.1044/hhd17.1.37
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, May 2013, Vol. 17, 37-57. doi:10.1044/hhd17.1.37

Improvements in digital amplification, cochlear implants, and other innovations have extended the potential for improving hearing function; yet, there remains a need for further hearing improvement in challenging listening situations, such as when trying to understand speech in noise or when listening to music. Here, we review evidence from animal and human models of plasticity in the brain's ability to process speech and other meaningful stimuli. We considered studies targeting populations of younger through older adults, emphasizing studies that have employed randomized controlled designs and have made connections between neural and behavioral changes. Overall results indicate that the brain remains malleable through older adulthood, provided that treatment algorithms have been modified to allow for changes in learning with age. Improvements in speech-in-noise perception and cognition function accompany neural changes in auditory processing. The training-related improvements noted across studies support the need to consider auditory training strategies in the management of individuals who express concerns about hearing in difficult listening situations. Given evidence from studies engaging the brain's reward centers, future research should consider how these centers can be naturally activated during training.

Acknowledgments
The authors thank Travis White-Schwoch for his comments and suggestions on the manuscript. This work was supported by NSF BCS-1057556, by NIH (T32 DC009399-01A10 & RO1 DC10016), and the Knowles Hearing Center. Comments/questions about this article? Visit the SIG 6 ASHA Community and join the discussion!
Become a SIG Affiliate
Pay Per View
Entire SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics content & archive
24-hour access
This Issue
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access
We've Changed Our Publication Model...
The 19 individual SIG Perspectives publications have been relaunched as the new, all-in-one Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups.