[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study investigated the development of two parameters of spatial acoustic perception in children and adolescents with normal hearing, aged 6-18 years. Auditory localization accuracy was quantified by means of a sound source identification task and auditory spatial discrimination acuity by measuring minimum audible angles (MAA). Both low- and high-frequency noise bursts were employed in the tests, thereby separately addressing auditory processing based on interaural time and intensity differences. Setup consisted of 47 loudspeakers mounted in the frontal azimuthal hemifield, ranging from 90° left to 90° right (-90°, +90°). Target signals were presented from 8 loudspeaker positions in the left and right hemifields (±4°, ±30°, ±60° and ±90°). Localization accuracy and spatial discrimination acuity showed different developmental courses. Localization accuracy remained stable from the age of 6 onwards. In contrast, MAA thresholds and interindividual variability of spatial discrimination decreased significantly with increasing age. Across all age groups, localization was most accurate and MAA thresholds were lower for frontal than for lateral sound sources, and for low-frequency compared to high-frequency noise bursts. The study also shows better performance in spatial hearing based on interaural time differences rather than on intensity differences throughout development. These findings confirm that specific aspects of central auditory processing show continuous development during childhood up to adolescence.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Audiology and Neurotology