Psychometric Functions for Children’s Detection of Tones in Noise This article reports the results of an experiment that used a two-alternative forced-choice task to measure the ability of 3- to 5-year-old children to detect 501 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2818 Hz sinusoids in noise. Psychometric functions were fit to each individual’s data, and thresholds (signal level required for 75% ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 1994
Psychometric Functions for Children’s Detection of Tones in Noise
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Prudence Allen
    Waisman Center for Mental Retardation and Human Development University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Frederic Wightman
    Waisman Center for Mental Retardation and Human Development University of Wisconsin Madison
  • Contact author: Prudence Allen, PhD, Dept. of Communicative Disorders, The University of Western Ontario, Elborn College, London, Ontario N6G 1H1 Canada.
  • Currently affiliated with the University of Western Ontario.
    Currently affiliated with the University of Western Ontario.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 1994
Psychometric Functions for Children’s Detection of Tones in Noise
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1994, Vol. 37, 205-215. doi:10.1044/jshr.3701.205
History: Received January 25, 1993 , Accepted September 16, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 1994, Vol. 37, 205-215. doi:10.1044/jshr.3701.205
History: Received January 25, 1993; Accepted September 16, 1993

This article reports the results of an experiment that used a two-alternative forced-choice task to measure the ability of 3- to 5-year-old children to detect 501 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2818 Hz sinusoids in noise. Psychometric functions were fit to each individual’s data, and thresholds (signal level required for 75% correct) were interpolated from the fitted functions. Results showed that, on average, the children’s thresholds were higher and the slopes of their psychometric functions were shallower than those of the adults. However, the between-subjects variability in the children’s data was large, and the performance of many individual children was not well described by group mean performance. One-third of the children produced thresholds that were elevated by an average of 10 dB but psychometric function slopes that were adult-like. Another one-third of the children produced thresholds that were elevated relative to those of the adults by an average of 20 dB and psychometric function slopes that were very shallow. The data from a smaller group of children showed large variability in psychometric function slope and threshold, and for a very few children performance was at chance regardless of the signal level. A replication of the study several months later showed that for most listeners the individual patterns of performance persisted over time.

Acknowledgments
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Mary Bolger, Patricia Heagle, Lawrence Lalone, Patricia Lea, Douglas Swiggum, and the children and teachers of the Waisman Early Childhood Program for their contributions to the research. Special thanks go to Terrence Dolan, Doris Kistler, and Robert Lutfi for their helpful comments; and to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 -HD-23333) for financial support.
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