Department of Psychology, University of York, UK
Hull-York Medical School, University of York, UK
Purpose: To establish the age at which children can complete tests of spatial listening and to measure the normative relationship between age and performance.
Method: Fifty-six normally-hearing children aged 1.5–7.9 years attempted tests of the ability to discriminate a sound source on the left from one on the right, to localize a source, to track moving sources, and to perceive speech in noise.
Results: Tests of left-right discrimination, movement tracking, and speech perception were completed by 75% of children over 3 years old. Children showed adult levels of performance from the age of 1.5 years (movement tracking), 3 years (left-right discrimination), and 6 years (localization and speech in noise). Spatial release from masking, calculated as the difference in speech-reception thresholds between conditions with spatially-coincident and spatially-separate speech and noise, remained constant at 5 dB from the age of 3 years. Data from a separate study demonstrate the age at which children with cochlear implants can complete the same tests. Assessments of left-right discrimination, movement tracking, and speech perception were completed by 75% of cochlear-implanted children over 5 years old.
Conclusions: These data can guide the selection of tests for future studies and inform the interpretation of results from clinical populations.