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Head trauma can lead to problems with the ear and auditory pathway. These problems can involve tympanic membrane perforation, fragments in squamous epithelium, damage to the ossicles, or ischemia of the cochlear nerve. It is common for behavioral checklists, for concussion or head injuries, to include an item about hearing difficulty. In the present study, 152 introductory psychology students completed a survey in which they indicated if they had ever had a concussion or sustained a head injury. Approximately one-third (35.53%) of the sample had a history of head trauma. The Hearing Screening Inventory was also part of the survey. Overall, participants who had a previous head injury reported more hearing difficulties than participants with no previous head injury (t(150) = 2.15, p < .02). Although this difference had a moderate effect size (d = .37), it suggests that hearing difficulties may linger since participation was not limited to those having a recent head injury but was open to anyone who had a head injury at any point in time. An examination of specific hearing difficulties revealed that the difference between the two groups was based almost exclusively on their ability to distinguish target sounds from background noises. Specifically, the ability to understand words in music (t(150) = 2.36, p < .01; d = .40) and to isolate an individual speaking from background conversations (t(150) = 2.44, p < .01; d = .41) differentiated the two groups. This finding is consistent with Hoover, Souza and Gallun (2017) who also found that head injury can impair target and noise processing.


Poster presented at the 18th Annual Auditory Perception, Cognition, and Action Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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