Auditory processing theories of language disorders: Past, present, and future

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to provide information that will assist readers in understanding and interpreting research literature on the role of auditory processing in communication disorders. Method: A narrative review was used to summarize and synthesize the literature on auditory processing deficits in children with auditory processing disorder (APD), specific language impairment (SLI), and dyslexia. The history of auditory processing theories of these 3 disorders is described, points of convergence and controversy within and among the different branches of research literature are considered, and the influence of research on practice is discussed. The theoretical and clinical contributions of neurophysiological methods are also reviewed, and suggested approaches for critical reading of the research literature are provided. Conclusion: Research on the role of auditory processing in communication disorders springs from a variety of theoretical perspectives and assumptions, and this variety, combined with controversies over the interpretation of research results, makes it difficult to draw clinical implications from the literature. Neurophysiological research methods are a promising route to better understanding of auditory processing. Progress in theory development and its clinical application is most likely to be made when researchers from different disciplines and theoretical perspectives communicate clearly and combine the strengths of their approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalLanguage, speech, and hearing services in schools
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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