Auditory Processing Efficiency and Temporal Resolution in Children and Adults

Hill, Penelope R.; Hartley, Douglas E. H.; Glasberg, Brian R.; Moore, Brian C. J.; Moore, David R.
October 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2004, Vol. 47 Issue 5, p1022
Academic Journal
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 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.


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