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  • Topic: Visual Attention in D/HOH Individuals
  • Title: “Visual Attention and Hearing Loss: Past and Current Perspectives” (A review to be published in J. of the American Academy of Audiology in 2010)
  • Contact Information:
    • Anne Marie Tharpe, Professor -Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center -1215 21st Ave. So.,MCE, S. Tower, #8310,Nashville, TN. 37232
    • Daniel Ashmead
    • Douglas Sladen
    • Hollea Ryan
    • Ann Rothpletz
  • Type of Research: quantitative/cohort studies
  • Subject Pool:Description: adults, children with and without hearing loss
  • Setting: laboratory studies
  • Number: varies
  • Research Description:
Background: It is reasonable to expect that deaf individuals require the use of vision for purposes other than those needed by hearing persons. For example, without the use of hearing, one would need to scan the environment visually to determine if someone was approaching rather than listening for footsteps or a name being called. Furthermore, these experiential differences could alter the development of neural organization of sensory systems of deaf persons.
Purpose: Our laboratory has examined the area of visual attention and deafness with an emphasis on a series of visual attention studies utilizing several paradigms including the Continuous Performance Task, the Letter Cancellation Task, the Flanker Task, and a self-designed task of target identification in the periphery under distracter and non-distracter conditions.
Results: Collectively, the Vanderbilt studies pointed to a compensatory role that the visual system plays for deaf individuals. Specifically, the visual system appears to play an important role in directing a deaf individual’s attention to the near visual periphery.
Conclusions: Studies of visual attention in deaf individuals have been mixed in their conclusions about whether altered neural organization results in better or worse visual attention abilities by those who are deaf relative to those with normal hearing. The notion

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