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Late maturation of auditory perceptual learning


Beverly A. Wright, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208-3550, USA; e-mail:


Adults can improve their performance on many perceptual tasks with training, but when does the response to training become mature? To investigate this question, we trained 11-year-olds, 14-year-olds and adults on a basic auditory task (temporal-interval discrimination) using a multiple-session training regimen known to be effective for adults. The adolescents all began with performance in the adult range. However, while all of the adults improved across sessions, none of the 11-year-olds and only half of the 14-year-olds did. The adolescents who failed to learn did so even though the 10-session training regimen provided twice the number of sessions required by adults to reach asymptotic performance. Further, over the course of each session, the performance of the adults was stable but that of the adolescents, including those who learned, deteriorated. These results demonstrate that the processes that underlie perceptual learning can continue to develop well into adolescence.

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