Auditory development and the role of experience

University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, UK.
British Medical Bulletin (Impact Factor: 3.95). 02/2002; 63:171-81. DOI: 10.1093/bmb/63.1.171
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The human ear is functionally mature shortly after birth, but the central auditory system continues to develop for at least the first decade of life. Current interest focuses on the relation between the very late developing aspects of hearing and other aspects of cognition and behaviour. While active neural input to the brain is essential during the very early stages of development, auditory experience is now thought to be a powerful influence on central function throughout an individual's lifespan. Studies of sound localization and hearing with two ears have shown the capacity of the auditory system to adapt to altered environmental cues, even into adulthood. This environmental influence may either be harmful, as during conductive deafness, or beneficial, as evidenced by the positive outcomes of auditory training.

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Available from: David R Moore, Aug 16, 2015
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    • "Children not only appear to have a greater degree of internal noise than adults (Buss et al., 2006), but their perceptual performance may also be subject to constraints imposed by different sources of noise due to the different maturational trajectories of sensory and cognitive processes. While the ascending, sensory system is largely mature by 2 years of age (Moore, 2002), more central and cognitive functions continue to develop into adolescence and even adulthood (e.g., Bishop et al., 2011; Moore and Linthicum, 2007). It is likely therefore that cognitive limitations will play a greater role than sensory limitations in children's difficulties in performing perceptual tasks (see Moore, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Internal noise is ubiquitous to information processing systems in the brain. It can originate in low-level, sensory systems (e.g., stochastic neural firing) or high-level cognitive functions (e.g., fluctuations in attention). Added to inefficiencies associated with the decision making process, it compromises our ability to make perceptual judgements even under ideal conditions (i.e., in the absence of external noise). We present evidence herein that performance-limiting internal noise and inefficiency of various origins can be reduced through training, resulting in improved behavioural performance. We promote the view that reducing or even removing these limiting processes is what defines perceptual learning, and that transfer of learning to untrained tasks critically depends on those tasks having a limiting process in common with the trained task. We present implications of this view for our understanding of perceptual learning during development and in atypical populations, as well as to the more practical aspects of designing perceptual and cognitive training programmes that will demonstrate benefits beyond the training tasks themselves.
    4th International Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research, Nyborg, Denmark; 08/2013
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    • "Considering the precocity, the progressive nature and the plasticity of the functional development of the auditory system, the perceptual abilities demonstrated in newborns are unlikely to have blossomed at birth (Granier-Deferre & Lecanuet, 1987; D. Moore, 2002; J. Moore, 2002). If so, prenatal auditory experience makes an important contribution to the development of the newborn's capacities for speech perception (Lecanuet & Granier-Deferre, 1993; Lecanuet, Granier-Deferre & Busnel, 1991; Fifer & Moon, 1994, 1995; Moon et al., 1993; Moon & Fifer, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: The perception of speech and music requires processing of variations in spectra and amplitude over different time intervals. Near-term fetuses can discriminate acoustic features, such as frequencies and spectra, but whether they can process complex auditory streams, such as speech sequences and more specifically their temporal variations, fast or relatively slow acoustic variations, is unclear. We recorded the cardiac activity of 82 near-term fetuses (38 weeks GA) in quiet sleep during a silent control condition and four 15 s streams presented at 90 dB SPL Leq: two piano melodies with opposite contours, a natural Icelandic sentence and a chimera of the sentence--all its spectral information was replaced with broadband noise, leaving its specific temporal variations in amplitude intact without any phonological information. All stimuli elicited a heart rate deceleration. The response patterns to the melodies were the same and differed significantly from those observed with the Icelandic sentence and its chimera, which did not differ. The melodies elicited a monophasic heart rate deceleration, indicating a stimulus orienting reflex while the Icelandic and its chimera evoked a sustained lower magnitude response, indicating a sustained attentional response or more focused information processing. A conservative interpretation of the data is that near-term fetuses can perceive sound streams and the rapid temporal variations in amplitude that are specific to speech sounds with no spectral variations at all.
    Developmental Science 03/2011; 14(2):336-52. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00978.x · 3.89 Impact Factor
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    • "Performance on auditory tasks tends to improve from infancy to adulthood, but it can be hard to know how much of the improvement reflects changes in the physiology of the auditory system, and how much is due to improved ability to cope strategically with task demands, e.g. by identifying relevant features, focusing attention at the time point when an auditory stimulus is delivered, and sustaining attention over several minutes (Banai & Ahissar, 2006; Sutcliffe & Bishop, 2005; Werner & Marean, 1996). Animal models can provide information about development of the auditory system (Illing, 2004), and have demonstrated that auditory experience plays a critical role in normal development of auditory cortex, findings that have parallels in humans (D. Moore, 2002). Nevertheless, it is difficult to generalize across species, because different animals follow different maturational timetables. "
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    ABSTRACT: Behavioural and electrophysiological studies give differing impressions of when auditory discrimination is mature. Ability to discriminate frequency and speech contrasts reaches adult levels only around 12 years of age, yet an electrophysiological index of auditory discrimination, the mismatch negativity (MMN), is reported to be as large in children as in adults. Auditory ERPs were measured in 30 children (7 to 12 years), 23 teenagers (13 to 16 years) and 32 adults (35 to 56 years) in an oddball paradigm with tone or syllable stimuli. For each stimulus type, a standard stimulus (1000 Hz tone or syllable [ba]) occurred on 70% of trials, and one of two deviants (1030 or 1200 Hz tone, or syllables [da] or [bi]) equiprobably on the remaining trials. For the traditional MMN interval of 100–250 ms post-onset, size of mismatch responses increased with age, whereas the opposite trend was seen for an interval from 300 to 550 ms post-onset, corresponding to the late discriminative negativity (LDN). Time-frequency analysis of single trials revealed that the MMN resulted from phase-synchronization of oscillations in the theta (4–7 Hz) range, with greater synchronization in adults than children. Furthermore, the amount of synchronization was significantly correlated with frequency discrimination threshold. These results show that neurophysiological processes underlying auditory discrimination continue to develop through childhood and adolescence. Previous reports of adult-like MMN amplitudes in children may be artefactual results of using peak measurements when comparing groups that differ in variance.
    Developmental Science 03/2011; 14(2):402-16. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00990.x · 3.89 Impact Factor
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