A team of researchers from the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) have discovered how a video game has become the first known treatment for Spatial Processing Disorder.


The disorder, which affects an estimated 18,000 children in Australia, makes it difficult for suffers to comprehend what people are saying when there is background noise. While the cause of the disorder is unknown, researchers found a connection between the disorder and children who had suffered middle ear infections when they were younger.


Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr, said the world-leading research is crucial in helping understand why some children have more difficulty in school. "If children struggle to understand their teachers, it is incredibly hard to concentrate or remember what they've learnt," Senator Kim Carr said.


Professor Harvey Dillon, Director of the NAL, said spatial processing helps us focus on one sound, while ignoring sounds coming from other directions.


"We first developed a test to diagnose SPD. This then led us to create LiSN and Learn. It works by introducing sounds that strengthen the brain's pathways that combine the sounds picked up by both ears - it's like exercise for the brain," Professor Dillon said.


"In our research and clinical trials, 100 per cent of children who completed the training had no evidence of any problem remaining."


The results of the controlled trial, published last week, is available at http://www.audiologyresearch.org/index.php/audio/article/view/6