Auditory gap detection in the early blind

Kurt E. Weaver, Alexander A. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

For blind individuals, audition provides critical information for interacting with the environment. Individuals blinded early in life (EB) typically show enhanced auditory abilities relative to sighted controls as measured by tasks requiring complex discrimination, attention and memory. In contrast, few deficits have been reported on tasks involving auditory sensory thresholds (e.g., Yates, J.T., Johnson, R.M., Starz, W.J., 1972. Loudness perception of the blind. Audiology 11(5), 368-376; Starlinger, I., Niemeyer, W., 1981. Do the blind hear better? Investigations on auditory processing in congenital or early acquired blindness. I. Peripheral functions. Audiology 20(6), 503-509). A study of gap detection stands at odds with this distinction [Muchnik, C., Efrati, M., Nemeth, E., Malin, M., Hildesheimer, M., 1991. Central auditory skills in blind and sighted subjects. Scand. Audiol. 20(1), 19-23]. In the current investigation we re-examined gap detection abilities in the EB using a single-interval, yes/no method. A group of younger sighted control individuals (SCy) was included in the analysis in addition to EB and sighted age matched control individuals (SCm) in order to examine the effect of age on gap detection performance. Estimates of gap detection thresholds for EB subjects were nearly identical to SCm subjects and slightly poorer relative to the SCy subjects. These results suggest some limits on the extent of auditory temporal advantages in the EB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalHearing Research
Volume211
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Auditory temporal discrimination
  • Early blindness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems

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