The effect of gender on a frequency discrimination task in children

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Abstract

Background: Physiological and behavioral sex-related differences have been previously reported in the human auditory system, although data are limited to adults and are equivocal. While physiological evidence showed some advantage for females, psychophysical data tended to show greater sensitivity for males in several auditory tasks. Possible explanations for the gender effect in the auditory system include differences between the sexes in physical dimensions of the ear, brain anatomy, exposure to androgens prenatally and/or at puberty, and/or environmental factors (e.g., auditory experience). The purpose of the present study was to investigate sex-related differences in an auditory frequency discrimination task in children prior to puberty. Methods: A total of 24 normal-hearing children were divided into two age groups: 7- and 8-year-olds, with six girls and six boys in each age group. All children took part in a testing session that consisted of three Difference Limen for Frequency (DLF) measurements. Cognitive tests were also conducted. Results: Results showed that (a) boys outperformed the girls regardless of age; (b) age effect was significant, with older children performing better than the younger ones, irrespective of gender; (c) intrameasurement variance was smaller for the older children; and (d) age, gender, and auditory working memory and capacity explained over 65% of the variance in DLF thresholds. This is the first evidence of a gender effect in the auditory system in children prior to puberty. Conclusions: This evidence suggests that it is more likely that inherent physiological differences between the sexes influence the differential outcomes reported in the present study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Boys
  • Children
  • DLF
  • Frequency discrimination
  • Gender
  • Girls
  • Maturation
  • Sex differences

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