Except for outwardly appearances, speech may be the one of the most defining elements of a person’s identity, ”psychologists generally consider language a prime manifestation of underlying cognitive processes” (Solso, MacLin, & MacLin, 2008, p. 468). Just by listening over the phone, I can tell whether a family member is feeling positive, in ill health, or worried about events in their lives. Should vocal language be the only measure of underlying cognitive processes?
As a small child, it was frustrating to not be able to make the adults in my life understand me. Many years later after development of the brainstem auditory evoked response test (BAER), a doctor who it seemed was always on the cutting edge of his science and working with neurologists at the old Lovelace Medical Center, tested my hearing using the BAER . For me, the results of this test were life changing because for the first time in 28 years my ...view middle of the document...
The test is non-invasive and performed by placing headphones over the ears then electrodes on the ears to measure when sound first enters the cochlear canal and electrodes at the brainstem at the base of the skull to measure the length of time or latency it takes for the sound to pass from the ears through the brain via the nervous system and into the brainstem (Kumar, 2011). The BAER is performed like that of an Electroencephalogram (EEG) with small little discs placed on the skin and hooked up to wires and placed on the vertex or high area of the forehead as a grounding or base point for the test, then on each ear and finally at the base of the brainstem or truncus cerebri (Urban & Caplan, 2011). The electrodes record the time or latency from when sound enters the cochlear canal by way of the nervous system, then processed through the brain into the base of the skull until the sound waves are recorded arriving at the brainstem (Ness, 2009).
Many of the resources state that a purpose to use this test for is to assist in determining the extent of lower levels of intelligence—this may be a reason, but in my case, it was used to explain how a high functioning individual could have problems understanding her own primary language (Urban & Caplan, 2011). After my testing, some of the treatments were first to place an ear plug in one ear, so that I was only hearing at one speed instead of two and another was for people to face me when speaking so I could read their lips just like I had my son lead me to what he wanted. We are both high functioning, we just communicate with the outside world differently. I find my experience is very helpful when working with adults experiencing end-stage dementia and will be discussed more in my second posting, namely that of while a person lives, there is active cognitive processing; infant psychotherapists have proven this fact by a preponderance of case studies with failure to thrive infants (Salo, 2007; Szejer, 2005). It is for us in the outside world, to navigate unchartered waters and using tests such as the BAER can help us find to adjust out methods of communication to match those of our patients.