Understanding Hearing Loss

Katy Mitchell | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Strength of Evidence

Research has shown that there is a critical period for the newborn’s brain to develop. Neural pathways are developed by experiences that lead to stimulation. This neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change as a result of different experiences (Begley, 2007). Sharma et al. (2009: 277) observed the cortical auditory evoked potentials of deaf children and found the critical development period for the central auditory pathways to be under the age of 3½ years ‘when the central pathways show maximal plasticity.’ Early diagnosis, combined with early fitting of appropriate amplification, needs to be combined with early support for outcomes to be age appropriate (Yoshinaga-Itano, 2006).

Promoting an understanding of hearing loss is an important first step in early support.

Further information about early childhood development can be found at the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University's website.

Evidence has been provided for the information collated in this guide with a full reference list including research published in peer reviewed journals.



Begley, S. (2007) Train your mind change your brain. New York: Ballantine Books.

Sharma, A., Nash, A. & Dorman, M. (2009) ‘Cortical development, plasticity and re-organization in children with cochlear implants’. Journal of Communication Disorders. Volume 42, Issue 4, July-August 2009 pp. 272 – 279.