Auditory Processing Efficiency and Temporal Resolution in Children and Adults Children have higher auditory backward masking (BM) thresholds than adults. One explanation for this is poor temporal resolution, resulting in difficulty separating brief or rapidly presented sounds. This implies that the auditory temporal window is broader in children than in adults. Alternatively, elevated BM thresholds in children may indicate poor ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2004
Auditory Processing Efficiency and Temporal Resolution in Children and Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Penelope R. Hill
    Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Douglas E. H. Hartley
    Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Brian R. Glasberg
    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Brian C. J. Moore
    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • David R. Moore
    MRC Institute of Hearing Research, University Park, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: penny.hill@magdalen.oxon.org
  • Contact author: Penny Hill, PhD, University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford University, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, United Kingdom. E-mail: penny.hill@magdalen.oxon.org
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2004
Auditory Processing Efficiency and Temporal Resolution in Children and Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1022-1029. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/076)
History: Received August 25, 2003 , Accepted February 26, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2004, Vol. 47, 1022-1029. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/076)
History: Received August 25, 2003; Accepted February 26, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 34

Children have higher auditory backward masking (BM) thresholds than adults. One explanation for this is poor temporal resolution, resulting in difficulty separating brief or rapidly presented sounds. This implies that the auditory temporal window is broader in children than in adults. Alternatively, elevated BM thresholds in children may indicate poor processing efficiency. In this case, children would need a higher signal-to-masker ratio than adults to detect the presence of a signal. This would result in poor performance on a number of psychoacoustic tasks but would be particularly marked in BM due to the compressive nonlinearity of the basilar membrane. The objective of the present study was to examine the competing hypotheses of "temporal resolution" and "efficiency" by measuring BM as a function of signal-to-masker interval in children and adults. The children had significantly higher thresholds than the adults at each of the intervals. Subsequent modeling and analyses showed that the data for both children and adults were best fitted using the same, fixed temporal window. Therefore, the differences in BM threshold between adults and children were not due to differences in temporal resolution but to reduced detection efficiency in the children.

Acknowledgments
Thanks to Mervyn Hardiman for designing and programming the tasks and also Helena Constantinides and Nick Truong for their help. Thanks also go to the staff and pupils at Bayswater Middle School, Barton, Oxford, and to the adult participants for all their help and patience. The Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (U.K.) provided financial support for the research.
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