The aim of this study was to investigate auditory pathway function and speech perception ability in individuals with Friedreich ataxia (FRDA). Ten subjects confirmed by genetic testing as being homozygous for a GAA expansion in intron 1 of the FXN gene were included. While each of the subjects demonstrated normal, or near normal sound detection, 3 of the 10 showed electrophysiological evidence of auditory pathway disorder [presenting with the auditory neuropathy/dyssynchrony (AN/AD) result pattern], and 9 of the 10 showed abnormal speech understanding when tested with levels of background noise typical of everyday listening conditions. Information transmission analyses of the speech perception findings for the three FRDA subjects with AN/AD type hearing loss when compared with those of a cohort of individuals with peripheral [sensorineural (SN)] hearing loss, showed a distinct pattern of perceptual disruption. Where the listeners with SN loss confused sounds on the basis of frequency (pitch) differences, the FRDA subjects with AN/AD made errors that reflected an inability to perceive temporal (timing) cues in the speech sounds.
- Friedreich ataxia
- Speech perception