Archived Webinar: New electrophysiological methods to assess hearing function in young children using engaging stories with Melissa Polonenko – Aired March 23, 2023 at 12pm ET

3DATE: Thursday, March 23, 2023 – 12 PM ET

SPEAKER: Melissa Polonenko, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota


Speech is a dynamically complex sound that is essential for infants and young children to hear during their early years to support spoken language acquisition. Therefore, it is important that we identify hearing loss and other hearing challenges as soon as possible so that we can promptly provide intervention to ensure children receive an adequate representation of the speech that they need to hear. Yet current hearing tests for young children do not use continuous speech and almost a year passes before a child begins to talk or can reliably participate in speech testing. And even then, testing awake children older than 6 months can be challenging and often yields incomplete assessments. This presentation will discuss the new auditory brainstem response (ABR) test that uses narrated stories and explore the new applications for evaluating hearing function, screening for hearing loss and validating hearing aids, and evaluating speech in noise.

Learning Points:

  1. Many hearing skills develop in early childhood but we usually have to wait until children are able to talk and perform longer behavioral testing before we can assess these skills.
  2. Electrophysiological measures that use continuous speech can be measured and may provide insights into hearing function during development and in more complex environments than our traditional objective measures.
  3. Having audiobook-based ABR tests may provide useful information for screening hearing loss and validating hearing aids in young children in the future.

SPEAKER BIO: Melissa Polonenko, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota

Dr. Melissa Polonenko is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota. She worked as an Audiologist in Edmonton Alberta before pursuing her PhD from the University of Toronto at SickKids Hospital, where she investigated outcomes in children with asymmetric hearing loss and single-sided deafness who received a cochlear implant. She developed new objective methods to assess hearing during her postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester. Her current research focuses on auditory development in children with hearing loss who use hearing aids and cochlear implants, auditory-visual integration following hearing or vision loss, and new electrophysiological paradigms to assess hearing function.