Diagnosing listening difficulties in children: The relationship between auditory processing speech processing, language processing, and cognitive abilities in children with listening difficulties.

This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with a 12 month stay at University of Manchester.

Project Description:

The University of Melbourne is seeking applicants for a full time PhD scholarship, in conjunction with the University of Manchester. This unique opportunity will allow the successful applicant international travel and collaboration opportunities in a reciprocal program facilitating a parallel PhD partnership.
A range of deficits can cause children difficulty in understanding speech in acoustically challenging situations, like many classrooms. Currently, it is difficult to determine the cause of these difficulties. Deficits in auditory processing, speech processing, language processing, or cognition, present in similar manners, and can be difficult to test for separately. A systematic approach to differentiate between these causes has been devised. The proposed approach is a tri-level test battery, being a combination of top-level speech perception ability, mid-level phoneme identification ability and low-level acoustic resolution task. The combined approach, in conjunction with cognitive test scores, will allow for differentiation of the cause of the observed listening deficit. This project will contribute to our understanding of how the abilities measured by these novel tests relate to one another and are influenced by basic underlying processes.

The results of this PhD will enable future users of the test battery to determine the dominant problem(s) causing individual children to present with listening difficulties, and hence more appropriately target remediation than is currently possible. The parallel Manchester-based program will be concurrently establishing normative data sets for populations in both settings. By investigating the relationships between the abilities measured on each level of the test, this PhD project will allow for this new clinical test-battery to be implemented into clinical practice in Melbourne (or elsewhere in Australia) and the for the potential establishment of a university service in Manchester (or elsewhere in the UK). With minor variations (to create versions of top level test, as it depends on the language spoken) the test battery will have application worldwide.
The essential requirement in potential applicants is the ability to carry out behavioural tests on children of primary school age. Desirable skills include qualifications or knowledge in any of audiology, psychology, speech therapy or education.

Supervision team:

A/Prof Dani Tomlin, Prof Gary Rance (University of Melbourne)

Dr Antje Heinrich, Dr Helen Glyde, Prof Harvey Dillon (University of Manchester)

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the lead supervisor. Applications close 30 August 2021


Information about the benefits of the scholarship provided to the successful applicant is available here.