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BACKGROUND: There is considerable uncertainty about the time-course of central auditory maturation. On some indices, children appear to have adult-like competence by school age, whereas for other measures development follows a protracted course. METHODOLOGY: We studied auditory development using auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by tones in 105 children on two occasions two years apart. Just over half of the children were 7 years initially and 9 years at follow-up, whereas the remainder were 9 years initially and 11 years at follow-up. We used conventional analysis of peaks in the auditory ERP, independent component analysis, and time-frequency analysis. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We demonstrated maturational changes in the auditory ERP between 7 and 11 years, both using conventional peak measurements, and time-frequency analysis. The developmental trajectory was different for temporal vs. fronto-central electrode sites. Temporal electrode sites showed strong lateralisation of responses and no increase of low-frequency phase-resetting with age, whereas responses recorded from fronto-central electrode sites were not lateralised and showed progressive change with age. Fronto-central vs. temporal electrode sites also mapped onto independent components with differently oriented dipole sources in auditory cortex. A global measure of waveform shape proved to be the most effective method for distinguishing age bands. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results supported the idea that different cortical regions mature at different rates. The ICC measure is proposed as the best measure of 'auditory ERP age'.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Auditory Cortex, Child, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Female, Humans, Male