A Longitudinal Investigation of Infant Auditory Sensitivity The behavioral evaluation of hearing in very young infants has been fraught with procedural and interpretive problems. Despite the introduction of current physiological techniques of estimating hearing sensitivity, such as otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem-evoked responses, behavioral hearing assessment of young infants remains of interest to researchers of infant behavior ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   December 01, 2001
A Longitudinal Investigation of Infant Auditory Sensitivity
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anne Marie Tharpe
    Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  • Daniel H. Ashmead
    Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2001
A Longitudinal Investigation of Infant Auditory Sensitivity
American Journal of Audiology, December 2001, Vol. 10, 104-112. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2001/011)
History: Received April 10, 2001 , Accepted September 4, 2001
 
American Journal of Audiology, December 2001, Vol. 10, 104-112. doi:10.1044/1059-0889(2001/011)
History: Received April 10, 2001; Accepted September 4, 2001

The behavioral evaluation of hearing in very young infants has been fraught with procedural and interpretive problems. Despite the introduction of current physiological techniques of estimating hearing sensitivity, such as otoacoustic emissions and auditory brainstem-evoked responses, behavioral hearing assessment of young infants remains of interest to researchers of infant behavior and to clinicians who need to use a battery of tests in their assessment of infant hearing. The objective of this study was to provide the first longitudinal investigation of infant auditory sensitivity, using a new procedure for behavioral testing of neonates and infants. Behavioral responses to speech noise stimuli were obtained monthly from birth to 12 months of age. During each trial, the signal increased from an inaudible level in 2-dB steps until the infant responded. Therefore, a threshold estimate was obtained on each trial, and the average threshold could be computed across trials within a test session. Threshold estimates were in good agreement with previously reported infant behavioral thresholds based on cross-sectional designs. The age-related changes in threshold were fit with exponential functions for individual infants and for the group data. There was good agreement in the shape of these functions across infants, with asymptotic threshold level approached around 6 months of age. Therefore, this longitudinal study confirms that the age trend previously reported from cross-sectional findings is also observed in the development of individual infants.

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