This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page.

  September 10, 2001

Researcher Hired From Dartmouth
to Boost Audiology Program

Aleader in the diagnosis and treatment of auditory processing disorders has joined the faculty of the communication sciences department as director of auditory research.

Frank Musiek (pronounced "music") has been at Dartmouth for the past 23 years, where he was a professor of otolaryngology in the Department of Surgery, a professor of neurology in the Department of Medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School, and director of audiology at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

"Frank Musiek will give the University and the Department of Communication Sciences national and inter- national visibility in the field of audiology," says Harvey Gilbert, chair of the communication sciences department. "He is well known for his research in diagnostic audiology and auditory processing. He will help us strengthen our Ph.D. program in audiology, and help us develop a new degree, the clinical doctorate in audiology."

The clinical doctorate - or Au.D. - degree is being developed to prepare for the new national standards that will take effect in 2012, when the doctorate will be the minimum requirement for those who want to be audiologists and work in the field, Gilbert says. The Ph.D. degree in audiology is a research degree.

Gilbert says having Musiek on board will give a significant boost to the audiology department, which previously had three faculty members but lost two full professors to retirement this year.

Musiek examines how disorders of the brain affect hearing, and develops diagnostic auditory tests for people whose hearing problems are related not so much to the ear as to the brain.

He has spent more than two decades trying to unravel the mystery of central auditory processing disorder - an auditory version of dyslexia that until recently has been given little attention. Those who have the disorder typically have normal hearing, but can't make sense of what they hear, Musiek says: "It is hard for them to distinguished foreground signals from background noise."

This is particularly problematic for children in the classroom when teachers use complex language, speak rapidly, or present lengthy information. A child who is fidgeting, appears distracted, and is not following a teacher's instructions may have CAPD, which affects about 3 percent of school-age children, Musiek says.

CAPD is frequently misdiagnosed as attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, because the two disorders share common symptoms: difficulty in paying attention and following directions, hyperactivity, and distraction.

CAPD may be caused by brain lesions, traumatic brain injury, a history of chronic ear infections, learning disabilities, delay in maturing, and, in older adults, neurological changes due to aging.

Musiek will teach several graduate courses, but will spend a considerable amount of his time conducting research. "Developing new and better tests to diagnose auditory processing disorder is an ongoing challenge," he says. "These tests are very sophisticated. " He will also continue to develop new auditory training exercises and learning strategies to help combat the disorder.

While it will take a few months to get his lab ready, Musiek says his future plans include working with Connecticut schools and children at risk for CAPD. He'll also be involved with starting up the Au.D. program.

Musiek has received many awards. He has been elected a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association and received the Editor's Award for a series of articles on neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and central auditory assessment published in the journal Ear and Hearing. Musiek is the Hitchcock Foundation Henry Heyl Award winner for excellence in clinical research and was selected as the Case Western Reserve 50th Anniversary Lecturer in Communication Disorders.

Musiek received his bachelor's degree from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, his master's in audiology from Kent State, and his Ph.D. in audiology and neurophysiology from Case Western Reserve University.

He has published more than 140 articles and/or book chapters in audiology and related fields and has co-authored several books in the field.

Sherry Fisher

Issue Index