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

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

Project Description:

The University of Manchester is seeking applicants for a full time PhD scholarship, in conjunction with the University of Melbourne. 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 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. As part of this project the student will contribute to our understanding of how these novel tests relate to one another and are influenced by basic underlying processes.
The Manchester-based project will be responsible for investigating the relationship between the tests of a new clinical test battery for the assessment of listening difficulties in school-aged children in a typically-developing population of school-aged children. The student will also collect normative data sets for children in the UK and Australia. By first understanding underlying relationships between the levels of the test will this PhD project will allow for this clinical test-battery to be implemented into clinical practice including for the potential establishment of a university service in Manchester.
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 studentship is suitable for students with a background in either audiology, psychology, education or speech-language therapy and an interest in quantitative research. Experience with statistical analysis would be beneficial. Previous clinical or paediatric experience will be preferred.

Supervision Team:

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

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