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Auditory Dominance and Its Change in the Course of Development


  • This research was supported by Grant BCS0078945 from the National Science Foundation to Vladimir M. Sloutsky. We thank John Opfer, Valerie Kuhlmeier, Dev Poling, Anna Fisher, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, and Stacey Shull for collecting some of the calibration data.

concerning this article should be addressed to Vladimir M. Sloutsky, Center for Cognitive Science, 208C Ohio Stadium East, 1961 Tuttle Park Place, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210. Electronic mail may be sent to


Young children often have a preference for auditory input, with auditory input often overshadowing visual input. The current research investigated the developmental trajectory and factors underlying these effects with 137 infants, 132 four-year-olds, and 89 adults. Auditory preference reverses with age: Infants demonstrated an auditory preference, 4-year-olds switched between auditory and visual preference, and adults demonstrated a visual preference. Furthermore, younger participants were likely to process stimuli only in the preferred modality, thus exhibiting modality dominance, whereas adults processed stimuli in both modalities. Finally, younger participants ably processed stimuli presented to the nonpreferred modality when presented in isolation, indicating that auditory and visual stimuli may be competing for attention early in development. Underlying factors and broader implications of these findings are discussed.

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