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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1998 Aug;124(8):892-6.

The effect of otitis media with effusion on complex masking tasks in children.

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Division of Otolaryngology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599, USA.



To determine whether there is a relationship between the presumed complexity of auditory processing and the time course of recovery of auditory function in children with a history of otitis media with effusion (OME).


Longitudinal testing over a 1-year period following insertion of tympanostomy tubes in clinical and control groups.


A total of 34 children with a history of OME were tested. Twenty-five were tested both just before the placement of tympanostomy tubes and on up to 3 separate occasions (1 month, 6 months, and 1 year) after the placement of the tubes. With subject attrition, there were 27, 16, and 10 listeners at the 1-month, 6-month, and 1-year tests, respectively. An age-matched control group of 29 children was tested.


The comodulation masking release (CMR) paradigm was used to measure the ability of the listener to detect a signal in a noise background composed of a simple (1 amplitude modulation pattern) or more complex (2 amplitude modulation patterns) masking background.


Children with a history of OME had reduced masking release before and 1 month after insertion of tympanostomy tubes for both the simple and complex CMR tasks. After surgery, the CMR results for simple task was not significantly different from that in controls by 6 months, but CMR for the complex task remained significantly reduced even 1 year after surgery.


Our results suggest a slower recovery of auditory function for more complex auditory tasks in children with a history of OME.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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