Research News

Dec 26, 2023

  • Medicine

Hello, can you hear me? A pioneering survey explores the prevalence and perception of listening difficulties in Japan

In a world surrounded by constant sound, the paradoxical phrase, “You hear, but you don't listen,” has great significance, especially in the current landscape where auditory processing disorders (APD) and listening difficulties (LiD) are on the rise. LiD, which is characterized by challenges in comprehending auditory information despite normal hearing, is on the rise in Japan, affecting children and adults in their daily lives.

A research team led by Associate Professor Hirokazu Sakamoto of the Graduate School of Medicine at Osaka Metropolitan University conducted the first-ever study in Japan to investigate the prevalence and severity of LiD in 734 students aged 6 to 18 across various school levels and their parents/guardians. To this end, the survey examined four auditory domains namely: attention, memory, discrimination and restoration. In addition, the survey also assessed the parents’ perceptions of LiD in their children.

The results demonstrated that the students’ LiD symptoms increased significantly as they progressed through school. Auditory attention in particular was identified as a primary area of concern. Students reported that they were bothered by other sounds during conversations or that they had to keep asking, “What? What?” Interestingly, parents consistently underreported their children's LiD symptoms, indicating a discrepancy between the two groups.

LiD can easily go undetected by others, as no abnormalities can be detected during hearing tests. In some cases, communication problems occur because the patient can hear but not understand, therefore, understanding and care for LiD is essential. Unfortunately, the environment for diagnosis is not yet fully developed as very few hospitals in Japan specialize in LiD testing and treatment. 

“Our findings could be a bridge to early detection of LiD. Screening and diagnosis of LiD is important as it can mitigate difficulties in language acquisition,” emphasized Professor Sakamoto. “Our research team is dedicated to developing a diagnostic guide and support system for those suffering from LiD.”

The results of this research were published in International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Paper Information

Journal: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Title: Survey of students and guardians for assessing the early detection of auditory processing disorder and listening difficulties in school-age students
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2023.111812
Author: Hirokazu Sakamoto, Tomoe Sekido, Naomasa Sakamoto, Chie Obuchi, Hisako Yoshida, Ayumi Shintani

Japanese article


Graduate School of Medicine, Otorhinolaryngology
Associate Professor: Hirokazu Sakamoto
E-mail: hsakamoto38 [at]

*Please change [at] to @.


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