Developmental changes in the perception of audiotactile simultaneity
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We charted the developmental trajectory of the perception of audiotactile simultaneity by testing three groups of children (aged 7, 9, and 11 years) and one group of adults. A white noise burst and a tap to the index finger were presented at 1 of 13 stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), and the participants were asked to report whether the two stimuli were simultaneous. Compared with adults, 7-year-olds made significantly more simultaneous responses at 9 of the 13 SOAs, whereas 9-year-olds differed from adults at only 2 SOAs. The precision of simultaneity perception was lower, and response errors were higher, in younger children than in adults. The 11-year-olds were adult-like on all measures, thereby demonstrating that judgments about simultaneity for audiotactile stimuli are mature by 11 years. This developmental pattern is similar to that for simultaneity perception for visuotactile stimuli but later than that for audiovisual stimuli. The longer developmental trajectories of the perception of simultaneity between touch and vision and between touch and audition may arise from the need to coordinate and recalibrate between different reference frames and different neural transmission times in each sensory system during body growth; in addition, the ubiquity of audiovisual experience in everyday life may accelerate the development of that modality pairing.
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