Physiological Measures of Auditory Sensitivity

Near-Threshold Intensity Effects
  • W. Keith Berg
Part of the Advances in the Study of Communication and Affect book series (ASCA, volume 10)


The scientist interested in evaluating the auditory sensitivity of young infants is presented with a difficult choice. On the one hand, physiological measures appear very attractive. There are a wide variety of them to choose from; they often can be recorded while the infant is asleep as well as awake; and the response systems are typically more mature than most externally observable motor systems. This latter quality is important because it allows the assessment of sensory-system development to be at least partially isolated from response-system development. On the other hand, physiological measures are often viewed as categorically different from behavioral measures—especially the traditional ones used with older children and adults. These effects have led Trehub and colleagues (Schneider, Trehub, & Bull, 1979; Trehub, Schneider, & Bull, 1981), and others before them, to conclude that psychophysiological techniques are sensitive to the “significance” of the stimulus and therefore track what they refer to as the “attentional threshold” rather than the threshold of audibility.


Auditory Stimulus Stimulus Intensity Pure Tone Physiological Measure Skin Conductance 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Keith Berg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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