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J Acoust Soc Am. 2013 Mar;133(3):1586-97. doi: 10.1121/1.4788983.

The monaural temporal window based on masking period pattern data in school-aged children and adults.

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Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Several lines of evidence indicate that auditory temporal resolution improves over childhood, whereas other data implicate the development of processing efficiency. The present study used the masking period pattern paradigm to examine the maturation of temporal processing in normal-hearing children (4.8 to 10.7 yrs) compared to adults. Thresholds for a brief tone were measured at 6 temporal positions relative to the period of a 5-Hz quasi-square-wave masker envelope, with a 20-dB modulation depth, as well as in 2 steady maskers. The signal was a pure tone at either 1000 or 6500 Hz, and the masker was a band of noise, either spectrally wide or narrow (21.3 and 1.4 equivalent rectangular bandwidths, respectively). Masker modulation improved thresholds more for wide than narrow bandwidths, and adults tended to receive more benefit from modulation than young children. Fits to data for the wide maskers indicated a change in window symmetry with development, reflecting relatively greater backward masking for the youngest listeners. Data for children >6.5 yrs of age appeared more adult-like for the 6500- than the 1000-Hz signal. Differences in temporal window asymmetry with listener age cannot be entirely explained as a consequence of a higher criterion for detection in children, a form of inefficiency.

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