A developmental study of auditory preferences in infants with Down’s syndrome and non-handicapped infants when hearing familiar and unfamiliar voices singing nursery rhymes
The auditory preferences of 20 non-handicapped infants and 20 infants with Down’s syndrome will be studied at the ages of 6 months and 12 months. A digital apparatus allowing infants to choose whether to listen to one of two auditory stimuli will be used as a measurement of their preferences. Sounds used will include two familiar voices; the mother and father of the child and in a second experiment one familiar voice, the mother, and one unfamiliar voice, a female not known to the child. At both ages, all infants will be measured highlighting ether they prefer listening to the familiar or unfamiliar voices significantly more. It is expected that at 6 months the Down’s syndrome infants will take longer to respond to the stimuli however along with the normal developing infants will show more interest for the familiar voices. However, as the infants reach 12 months non-handicapped infants may begin to show a significant increase to unfamiliar voices whereas, infants with Down’s syndrome are more likely to listen longer to familiar voices. Implications and applications for further research are discussed.
Down’s syndrome is a chromosomal condition that is caused by the presences of an extra copy of genetic material on the 21st chromosome. The condition was first founded by John Langdon Down in 1866. It is associated with intellectual disability and the degree of this can vary but it usually mild to moderate (Carr, 1995).
Jiang, Wu and Liu (1990) conducted a study on the early development of the brainstem auditory pathway in 14 infants with Down’s syndrome. The participant’s ages from 1 month to 3 years old. Findings highlighted all children within 2 years had elevated threshold in either one or both ears suggesting a high incidence of peripheral hearing deficits. Research following on from the 1990 study showed that as age increased the elevated threshold decreased. The development of peripheral hearing is delayed in Down’s syndrome infants and the development of the brainstem auditory pathway may also be abnormal. This should be taken in to consideration when conducting the present study specifically when examining results. If findings are different between handicapped and non-handicapped infants this could be a confounding factor.
Perception is the process involving signals in the nervous system resulting from stimulation of the sensory organs to understand the environment (Rookes & Willson, 2000). It is important to understand the development of perception as it underlies many other developments including cognition and it also provides a baseline for other developments. There is however some issues that arise from studying perception in infants including; what can infants perceive? And also, how do infants interpret what they perceive? There are different perceptions for each sensory organ including visual, auditory and tactile perception which can help us to understand these limitations by researching and investigating further in to how they work and develop as people get older.
Auditory perception is often viewed to mark a distinction between itself and visual perception. It is thought that the function of hearing is to interpret acoustic cues to enable us to hear sounds; these are the objects of experience that can be distinguished in terms of their sensory qualities of pitch, loudness, and timbre. On the other hand, visual perception is to interpret visible cues to enable us to see objects in the world (Nudds, 2007).
Auditory perception can be measured in many different ways including loudness, pitch or recognition of a familiar voice, for example, the mother. Perceiving the source of a sound rather than focusing on the attributes of a sound is most common; however, it is possible to attend to the experience...
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