Inattentive ADD Language Processing, Ear Ye, Ear Ye!
Posted Nov 21 2012 10:54am
Inattentive ADHD Language Processing
The way we hear affects our ability to pay attention. Our brains are organized in such a way that there are learning advantages to hearing language with our right ear and background noise and non-verbal sounds with our left ear.
Verbal information received by the right ear, is efficiently transferred to the left side of our brain which is responsible for processing language. The left ear does transfer speech as well but it does so less efficiently. Verbal information received by the left ear, has to go from the right part of our brain over to the left side for processing. This causes a processing delay.
An interesting study just published in the Journal, Child Neuropsychology, suggests that children with ADHD and Inattentive ADHD (ADHD-PI) hear non-verbal sounds differently than children without ADHD. In this study, children with Inattentive ADHD heard non-verbal sounds best with their right ears, their learning ears.
I am no audiologist but it seems to me that this means that the ear that processes information most efficiently is busy hearing nothing but a lot of background "blah, blah, blah" and the ear that is doing the heavy lifting of language processing is the left ear. The left ear does not connect directly to the brain's left language centers so verbal processing and learning is delayed.
In studies, the stimulants have been found to help with auditory processing inefficiencies. As far as non-drug therapies, Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis,a French ear, nose, and throat doctor, proposed that you could improve auditory processing and learning by training the learning ear (the right ear) to be more dominant. The studies that I have found on Tomatis Listening Therapy for ADHD have been small and no conclusions can really be made from these studies..
The Child Neuropsychology article reported that people with the Combined type of ADHD had a "No ear" advantage" for non-verbal sounds. The ability to lateralize (or chose an ear) to process information is a necessary step in proper brain development. While lateralizing language to the right ear, as the Inattentive ADD kids did, is not a good thing; not lateralizing at all, from what I have read, may be more of a problem.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder-combined subtype (ADHD-C) and predominantly inattentive subtype (ADHD-PI) to direct their attention and to exert cognitive control in a forced attention dichotic listening (DL) task. Twenty-nine, medication-naive participants with ADHD-C, 42 with ADHD-PI, and 40 matched healthy controls (HC) between 9 and 16 years were assessed. In the DL task, two different auditory stimuli (syllables) are presented simultaneously, one in each ear. The participants are asked to report the syllable they hear on each trial with no instruction on focus of attention or to explicitly focus attention and to report either the right- or left-ear syllable. The DL procedure is presumed to reflect different cognitive processes: perception (nonforced condition/NF), attention (forced-right condition/FR), and cognitive control (forced-left condition/FL). As expected, all three groups had normal perception and attention. The children and adolescents with ADHD-PI showed a significant right-ear advantage also during the FL condition, while the children and adolescents in the ADHD-C group showed a no-ear advantage and the HC showed a significant left-ear advantage in the FL condition. This suggests that the ADHD subtypes differ in degree of cognitive control impairment. Our results may have implications for further conceptualization, diagnostics, and treatment of ADHDsubtypes.