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Auditory categorization is a natural and adaptive process that allows for the organization of high-dimensional, continuous acoustic information into discrete representations. Studies in the visual domain have identified a rule-based learning system that learns and reasons via a hypothesis-testing process that requires working memory and executive attention. The rule-based learning system in vision shows a protracted development, reflecting the influence of maturing prefrontal function on visual categorization. The aim of the current study was twofold: (a) to examine the developmental trajectory of rule-based auditory category learning from childhood through adolescence and into early adulthood and (b) to examine the extent to which individual differences in rule-based category learning relate to individual differences in executive function. A sample of 60 participants with normal hearing-20 children (age range=7-12years), 21 adolescents (age range=13-19years), and 19 young adults (age range=20-23years)-learned to categorize novel dynamic "ripple" sounds using trial-by-trial feedback. The spectrotemporally modulated ripple sounds are considered the auditory equivalent of the well-studied "Gabor" patches in the visual domain. Results reveal that auditory categorization accuracy improved with age, with young adults outperforming children and adolescents. Computational modeling analyses indicated that the use of the task-optimal strategy (i.e., a conjunctive rule-based learning strategy) improved with age. Notably, individual differences in executive flexibility significantly predicted auditory category learning success. The current findings demonstrate a protracted development of rule-based auditory categorization. The results further suggest that executive flexibility coupled with perceptual processes play important roles in successful rule-based auditory category learning.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of experimental child psychology
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A set of cognitive functions that controls complex, goal-directed thought and behavior. Executive function involves multiple domains, such as CONCEPT FORMATION, goal management, cognitive flexibility, INHIBITION control, and WORKING MEMORY. Impaired executive function is seen in a range of disorders, e.g., SCHIZOPHRENIA; and ADHD.
Process in which individuals take the initiative, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying resources for learning, choosing and implementing learning strategies and evaluating learning outcomes (Knowles, 1975)
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Disorders of hearing or auditory perception due to pathological processes of the AUDITORY PATHWAYS in the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM. These include CENTRAL HEARING LOSS and AUDITORY PERCEPTUAL DISORDERS.
Acquired or developmental cognitive disorders of AUDITORY PERCEPTION characterized by a reduced ability to perceive information contained in auditory stimuli despite intact auditory pathways. Affected individuals have difficulty with speech perception, sound localization, and comprehending the meaning of inflections of speech.
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