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J Acoust Soc Am. 1988 Oct;84(4):1316-24.

Pure-tone sensitivity of human infants.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Pure-tone thresholds at frequencies ranging from 250 to 8000 Hz were estimated for 3-, 6-, and 12-month-old infants and for adults, using the Observer-based Psychoacoustic Procedure (OPP). Sounds were presented monaurally using an earphone. Psychometric functions of infants were similar to those of adults, although 3-month-olds had shallower functions at higher frequencies. The thresholds of 6- and 12-month-old infants were 10-15 dB higher than those of the adults, with the difference being greater at lower frequencies. This result is in general agreement with results from other laboratories. The thresholds of 3-month-olds were 15-30 dB higher than those of adults. The greatest difference between 3-month-olds and adults was at 8000 Hz. This threshold difference is smaller than that reported in earlier behavioral studies; higher thresholds at high frequencies have been previously reported for newborn and 3-month-old infants. The relative contributions of sensory and nonsensory variables to these age differences are discussed.

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