What is Auditory Processing?


What is Auditory processing?understanding speech in background noise

The way we process sound can vary between people. One of my clients just told me the story where the wife can hear the neighbour’s dog barking all night and when she finally asks her husband: ‘Doesn’t that sound annoy you? He replies with ‘What sound?’ After listening for a while he says.’ Ah yes I can hear a dog, now that you mention it.’
Why did he only hear the sound of the dog when his wife brought it to his attention?

People who have normal hearing actually hear far more than they perceive. Where hearing is a function of the ear, listening is a function of the brain. Auditory processing explains what happens between the ear and the brain and describes the way the brain assigns significance and meaning to the sounds in the environment. It follows that good listening cannot occur in the absence of effective auditory processing. Auditory processing involves a relatively high speed of information transfer. It also requires a good attention span, a well-functioning memory, and sensitivity to the many subtleties of sound.

When parts of this complex system break down or don’t operate efficiently, listening is compromised. This may manifest as an inability to discriminate between sources of sound, an inability to inhibit unimportant sound from consciousness, or insensitivity to subtle properties of sound such as pitch, volume, rhythm and stress. All these problems are symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).

The term ‘auditory overload’ is often used to describe what happens to people who have APD. Auditory overload is a sense of being overwhelmed and relates to features of the information being received. If information is highly specific, spoken quickly, lacking in contextual cues, described in unfamiliar language or presented in a noisy environment, it will be very difficult for someone with APD to comprehend the message or follow through with instructions.


Testing and treatment of Auditory Processing is offered at Falls of Sound.