Auditory Processing, also known as Central Auditory Processing (CAP) is an umbrella term that refers to an array of listening skills that are fundamental to hearing, localizing and understanding sound and speech. It describes what happens after sound travels through to the inner ear and begins the journey along the auditory neural pathways to the the hearing centre of the brain. Auditory processing abilities also include how well a person is able to pay attention and listen in complex auditory situations, such as speech in the presence of background noise, degraded or filtered speech, and reverberant speech.
People with Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) usually have normal results on their standard hearing test. Special tests designed to "stress" the auditory system and challenge listening skills must be used to assess and identify APD.
An Auditory Processing Delay or Disorder is diagnosed when a person's auditory processing skills fall significantly below the performance of their same-aged peers. Because listening skills develop and mature at different ages depending on the task, poor performance in younger patients may be considered a neuro-maturational delay rather then a deficit.
Auditory processing deficits may result in diminished learning, and they can present as part of a speech, language, reading or learning problem. While APD is more commonly diagnosed in children, difficulties with auditory processing may also be present in adults as a result of aging, neuro-degenerative disease or head trauma.