Separable developmental trajectories for the abilities to detect auditory amplitude and frequency modulation

Karen Banai, Andrew T. Sabin, Beverly A. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) are inherent components of most natural sounds. The ability to detect these modulations, considered critical for normal auditory and speech perception, improves over the course of development. However, the extent to which the development of AM and FM detection skills follow different trajectories, and therefore can be attributed to the maturation of separate processes, remains unclear. Here we explored the relationship between the developmental trajectories for the detection of sinusoidal AM and FM in a cross-sectional design employing children aged 8-10 and 11-12 years and adults. For FM of tonal carriers, both average performance (mean) and performance consistency (within-listener standard deviation) were adult-like in the 8-10 y/o. In contrast, in the same listeners, average performance for AM of wideband noise carriers was still not adult-like in the 11-12 y/o, though performance consistency was already mature in the 8-10 y/o. Among the children there were no significant correlations for either measure between the degrees of maturity for AM and FM detection. These differences in developmental trajectory between the two modulation cues and between average detection thresholds and performance consistency suggest that at least partially distinct processes may underlie the development of AM and FM detection as well as the abilities to detect modulation and to do so consistently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-227
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH/NIDCD ( F32DC008052 and R01DC004453 ), the Hugh Knowles Center for Clinical and Basic Science in Hearing and its Disorders (Northwestern University) and by an Alon Fellowship from the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Brian Moore and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on this paper.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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