Factors affecting frequency discrimination in school-aged children and adults

Crystal N. Taylor, Emily Buss, Lori J. Leibold

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Auditory frequency discrimination is a basic ability that may limit the maturation of speech and language skills in some listeners. Despite its importance, the factors affecting frequency discrimination in school-aged children are poorly understood. The goal of the present study was to evaluate effects related to memory for pitch, musical training, and the utilization of temporal fine-structure cues. Listeners were normal-hearing children, 5.1 to 13.6 years old, and adults. One subgroup of children had musical training (>150 hours) and the other did not. The standard stimulus was either a 500- or a 5000-Hz pure tone, and the target stimulus was either a tone of higher frequency or a frequency-modulated tone (2- or 20-Hz rate) centered on the standard frequency. As commonly observed, mean frequency discrimination thresholds tended to be elevated in younger listeners. This developmental effect was smaller for FM detection than for pure-tone frequency discrimination, consistent with an effect of memory for pitch. The child/adult difference tended to be smaller for musically trained than untrained children. Children were not particularly poor at 2-Hz FM detection for the 500-Hz standard, a condition thought to rely on temporal fine-structure cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number050059
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
StatePublished - 2013
Event21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: Jun 2 2013Jun 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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