Some studies find that temporal processing ability predicts language outcome whereas other studies do not. Resolution of this debate is hindered by the variety of temporal measures used, nonsensory loading of the tasks, and differential amounts of practice across studies. The goal of this study was to examine the effects of stimulus properties, experimental task, and perceptual learning on listeners' gap detection performance.
Gap detection thresholds were obtained from adults with normal hearing and language ability. The effects of marker frequency similarity and marker duration on thresholds were examined in yes-no, two-interval forced-choice (2IFC), and dual-pair comparison tasks (which vary in nonsensory loading) over 4 days of testing.
Thresholds were highest for gaps defined by markers with disparate frequencies (1000 and 4000 Hz; i.e., between-channel gap detection), and with longer (300 ms) trailing markers, obtained using yes-no and 2IFC tasks. However, these effects were attenuated with training or the initial use of the dual-pair comparison task.
These results suggest that gap detection thresholds reflect a variety of sensory and nonsensory factors. Understanding these underlying factors is critical to any evaluation of the relation between temporal processing and language outcome.