Age-related improvements in auditory backward and simultaneous masking in 6- to 10-year-old children

D. E H Hartley, B. A. Wright, S. C. Hogan, D. R. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


This study investigated the development of auditory frequency and temporal resolution using simultaneous and backward masking of a tone by a noise. The participants were 6- to 10-year-old children and adults. On the measure of frequency resolution (the difference in the detection threshold for a tone presented either in a bandpass noise or in a spectrally notched noise), 6-year-old children performed as well as adults. However, for the backward masking task, 6-year-olds had, on average, 34 dB higher thresholds than adults. A negative exponential decay function fitted to the backward masking data for subjects of all ages indicated that adult-like temporal resolution may not be reached until about 11 years of age. These results show that, measured by masking, frequency resolution has reached adult-like performance by 6 years of age, whereas temporal resolution develops beyond 10 years of age. Six-year-old children were also assessed with tests of cognitive ability. Improvements in both frequency and temporal resolution were found with increasing IQ score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1402-1415
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Auditory development
  • Intelligence
  • Middle ear disease
  • Spectral resolution
  • Temporal resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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