Behavioral and Anatomical Studies of Central Auditory Development
Behavioral studies of the development of hearing indicate that central auditory processes associated with sound localization are in a state of functional readiness soon after the onset of peripheral sensitivity to sounds. In human infants, the ability to localize sounds in space can be demonstrated shortly after birth (Mendelson and Haith, 1976; Muir and Field, 1979; Turkewitz, Birch, Moreau, Levy and Cornwell, 1966; Wertheimer, 1961). Also, in the highly precocial guinea pig, directed approach responses to sound are seen as soon as the first four days after birth (Clements and Kelly, 1978). Furthermore, in guinea pigs, it has been shown that even at this early stage of development binaural cues are important for maintaining reliable approach responses toward a sound source. Monaural ear blocks reduce directional responding to a chance level even over periods of prolonged testing. From this observation, one can infer that central structures involved in the integration of binaural cues and the execution of appropriate spatial responses are already active. Central mechanisms for sound localization are present in the infant very early in development.
KeywordsSound Source Inferior Colliculus Cochlear Nucleus Sound Localization Auditory Stimulation
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