Auditory perceptual consolidation in early-onset blindness

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63 Scopus citations


Early-onset blindness (EB) produces measurable advantages in auditory perception, attention, memory and language. Neville and Bavelier [Neville, H. J., & Bavelier, D. (2001) Variability of developmental plasticity. In J. L. McClelland, R. S. Siegler (Eds.) Mechanisms of cognitive development: Behavioral and ellon symposia on cognition (pp. 271-301)] hypothesized that faster temporal processing underlies many auditory compensatory effects in the blind. We tested this hypothesis by comparing early-onset blind individuals and sighted counterparts (SC) by assessing their rates of perceptual consolidation, the accurate perceptual representation of auditory stimuli. Firstly, we first tested both groups on a temporal-order judgment task (TOJ). EB subjects had significantly lower TOJ thresholds than the SC subjects. Secondly, we assessed perceptual consolidation speed using auditory backward masking tasks, taking into account individual TOJ thresholds. Discrimination performance was unaffected at all mask delays in the EB group while the SC subjects needed a mask delay of 160 ms to perform comparably. A backward masking task using single tone stimuli found no differences between the EB and SC groups any mask delay. A simultaneous masking task demonstrated that the mask effectively impaired discrimination in EB subjects at sensory stages. These results suggest that advantages in perceptual consolidation may reflect a mechanism responsible for the short response times and better performance reported in early blind individuals across a number of complex auditory tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1901-1910
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2005


  • Early-onset blindness
  • Sighted counterparts
  • Temporal-order judgment task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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