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Poster E108 - Sketchpad Series

Exploring the effect of coloured background noise on auditory discomfort in people with post-traumatic stress disorder

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Hafsa Siddiqui1 (, James Kryklywy1, Deborah Scharf1; 1Lakehead University

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience auditory sensitivity such as hyperacusis, misphonia, and an enhanced auditory startle reflex. Sound masking with coloured noise has been studied for its therapeutic potential in several settings and populations, but to date has not been explored in people with PTSD. This study seeks to understand whether background exposure to coloured noise can i) improve auditory discomfort; and ii) reduce auditory startle reflex in people with PTSD. Using a mixed design, auditory oddball paradigm, this study will compare people with PTSD who have auditory symptoms with healthy controls recruited from a community sample. The first part of this experiment will compare comfort across white, brown, and pink noise conditions. In the second experiment, while holding visual fixation constant, participants will be exposed to each coloured noise condition while listening to a series of pure tones. For each experiment, changes in baseline heart rate response, skin conductance, and subjective measures will be compared to assess auditory discomfort and startle reflex . It is predicted that compared to healthy controls, those with PTSD will experience greater improvements in auditory comfort and reductions in auditory startle reflex. The results of this study have potential to improve our understanding of how people with PTSD differ in their perception of sounds across frequency spectra. This work can set the stage for further investigation into potential auditory therapies for PTSD.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Audition


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April 13–16  |  2024