Thirty years of research into the development of hearing have produced a decent description of age-related changes in hearing as well as some understanding of the mechanisms underlying those changes. The number of potential applications of this knowledge has increased tremendously in recent years. Universal hearing screening programs make it likely that a child with a hearing loss will be identified at birth. Infants may receive hearing aids before they are six months old, and one-year-olds are receiving cochlear implants. The optimal design of device fitting strategies and habilitation techniques must be based on knowledge of auditory development and the effects of abnormal experience with sound. Moreover, there is a growing recognition of the contributions of auditory processing deficits to speech and language disorders. Again, the nature of the relationship between perception and language development must provide the basis for attempts to remediate such problems. Although recent volumes have addressed auditory development, they have focused on development in nonhuman species. Although this work is certainly informative to workers in the field of human development, it is often difficult to generalize findings from nonhumans to humans. The goal of the proposed book is to provide a basic reference for graduate students, clinicians, and researchers on fundamental principles of human auditory development, with an emphasis on the effects of auditory experience on development.
This volume will provide an important contemporary reference on hearing development and will lead to new ways of thinking about hearing in children and about remediation for children with hearing loss. Much of the material in this volume will document that a different model of hearing is needed to understand hearing during development. The book is expected to spur research in auditory development and in its application to pediatric audiology.