Masked and Unmasked Pure-Tone Thresholds of Infants and Adults Development of Auditory Frequency Selectivity and Sensitivity Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1984
Masked and Unmasked Pure-Tone Thresholds of Infants and Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robert J. Nozza
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Wesley R. Wilson
    University of Washington, Seattle
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1984
Masked and Unmasked Pure-Tone Thresholds of Infants and Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1984, Vol. 27, 613-622. doi:10.1044/jshr.2704.613
History: Received April 4, 1984 , Accepted September 10, 1984
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1984, Vol. 27, 613-622. doi:10.1044/jshr.2704.613
History: Received April 4, 1984; Accepted September 10, 1984

Detection thresholds for pure tones (1000 Hz and 4000 Hz) in noise and in quiet were estimated for infants at 6 months and 12 months of age and for adults. A visually reinforced head-turn procedure under control of a PDP-11/03 minicomputer was used. An adaptive protocol with a 5-dB step size was employed for the threshold estimates. Infant thresholds were poorer than adult thresholds in each condition. In noise, infant-adult differences were 8 dB (6-month-old infants) and 6 dB (12-month-old infants) at each frequency. In quiet, infant-adult differences were 14 dB (6-month-old infants) and 12 dB (12-month-old infants) at 1000 Hz but were only 7 dB (6-month-old infants) and 5 dB (12-month-old infants) at 4000 Hz. The masking data suggest that infants are at only a slight disadvantage in detecting a target in a background of noise and are consistent with a frequency selectivity mechanism that is proportional to that of adults. The detection-in-quiet data, with greater correspondence among the groups at 4000 Hz than at 1000 Hz, support the notion that hearing sensitivity varies with frequency in a different way in infants than in adults. Data on task performance reveal significant age effects, and the possibility that such effects have biased the observed differences in the estimates of sensory function among the groups is considered.

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