vAUDITORY LEARNING OF A PSYCHOACOUSTICAL TASK IN CHILDREN AS COMPARED TO ADULTS
While there is growing evidence that the performance of a given auditory task can dramatically improve with practice in normally-hearing adults, data on auditory procedural learning processes of children is very limited. On the one hand, the prolonged development of the auditory and cognitive systems during childhood may lead to inferior learning abilities in children. On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest greater brain plasticity in early childhood. The purpose of the present study was to explore the time course of auditory learning in children compared to adults using single- and multi-session training. Participants included 23 children (7-11 years of age) and 24 young adults (18-30 years of age). Each training session comprised of six estimates of Difference Limen for Frequency (DLF) at 1 kHz using an adaptive forced-choice procedure. The results show that despite considerable initial poor thresholds of the children (mean relDLF%=4.68) compared to those of adults (mean relDLF%=2.61), most children exhibited large learning effects resulting in discrimination thresholds that were very similar to those of adults at the end of the multi-session training (mean relDLF%=0.38 and 0.31 for trainable children and adults, respectively). Nevertheless, it seems that the adults needed less training than the children in order to accomplish these thresholds. These data support the hypothesis that the procedural learning mechanisms of children aged of 7 to 11 years are still in the process of maturation.