Physiological Measures of Auditory Sensitivity
The scientist interested in evaluating the auditory sensitivity of young infants is presented with a difficult choice. On the one hand, physiological measures appear very attractive. There are a wide variety of them to choose from; they often can be recorded while the infant is asleep as well as awake; and the response systems are typically more mature than most externally observable motor systems. This latter quality is important because it allows the assessment of sensory-system development to be at least partially isolated from response-system development. On the other hand, physiological measures are often viewed as categorically different from behavioral measures—especially the traditional ones used with older children and adults. These effects have led Trehub and colleagues (Schneider, Trehub, & Bull, 1979; Trehub, Schneider, & Bull, 1981), and others before them, to conclude that psychophysiological techniques are sensitive to the “significance” of the stimulus and therefore track what they refer to as the “attentional threshold” rather than the threshold of audibility.
KeywordsAuditory Stimulus Stimulus Intensity Pure Tone Physiological Measure Skin Conductance
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