For speech and language to develop, an intact and active auditory system is of fundamental importance. The central auditory nervous system (CANS) can be hampered by several occurrences, including otitis media (OM) originating from inflammation in the middle ear and which is often associated with the accumulation of infected (or sometimes noninfected) fluid. OM can have a diffuse effect on cognitive and linguistic abilities, affecting both speech and phoneme perception through a failure to discriminate, store, and reproduce the acoustic contrasts necessary for comprehension. It is especially common in the first years of school. In addition, OM can generate internal noise from the presence of middle ear fluid near the cochlea, which can lead to changes in speech perception, distortion in acoustic images, and a reduction in the speed and accuracy of decoding speech. Evaluating the effectiveness of the CANS is recommended in cases where there have been repeated episodes of OM. Very useful information can be gained from behavioral and electrophysiological tests. The tests allow functional diagnoses to be made and can also reveal clinical and subclinical changes. In this way, they allow information to be collected, which can help in making a prognosis and planning intervention strategies.
Part of the book: The Human Auditory System