Auditory development and the role of experience

University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford, UK.
British Medical Bulletin (Impact Factor: 3.66). 02/2002; 63(1):171-81. DOI: 10.1093/bmb/63.1.171
Source: PubMed


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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    • "However, such interaction between vocal and auditory systems during development has only been clearly demonstrated in higher vertebrates, namely songbirds and mammals (e.g. Moore, 2002; Miller-Sims and Bottjer, 2012). "
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    • "Because the EEG ASSRs are dominated by brainstem responses at 80 Hz, but dominated by cortical response below about 50 Hz (Purcell et al., 2004), these findings can be taken as an indication of different developmental trajectories of temporal processing in the cortex and in peripheral regions (Moore, 2002). Interestingly, the magnitudes of responses at low repetition rates (i.e. "
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    • "Detection of simple signals in noise should also be susceptible to CHL-induced central auditory system changes. Auditory percepts that reach mature performance levels gradually are susceptible to central changes that can arise due to hearing loss-induced deprivation (Moore, 2002). In particular, for the detection of brief signals in noise (simultaneous masking), thresholds do not reach adult levels until 10 years of age or later in humans (Hartley et al., 2000; Huyck, personal communication). "
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