Electrophysiological gap detection thresholds: Effects of age and comparison with a behavioral measure

Shannon B. Palmer, Frank E. Musiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Temporal processing ability has been linked to speech understanding ability and older adults often complain of difficulty understanding speech in difficult listening situations. Temporal processing can be evaluated using gap detection procedures. There is some research showing that gap detection can be evaluated using an electrophysiological procedure. However, there is currently no research establishing gap detection threshold using the N1-P2 response.

Purpose: The purposes of the current study were to 1) determine gap detection thresholds in younger and older normal-hearing adults using an electrophysiological measure, 2) compare the electrophysiological gap detection threshold and behavioral gap detection threshold within each group, and 3) investigate the effect of age on each gap detection measure.

Design: This study utilized an older adult group and younger adult group to compare performance on an electrophysiological and behavioral gap detection procedure.

Study Sample: The subjects in this study were 11 younger, normal-hearing adults (mean = 22 yrs) and 11 older, normal-hearing adults (mean = 64.36 yrs).

Data Collection: All subjects completed an adaptive behavioral gap detection procedure in order to determine their behavioral gap detection threshold (BGDT). Subjects also completed an electrophysiologic gap detection procedure to determine their electrophysiologic gap detection threshold (EGDT).

Results: Older adults demonstrated significantly larger gap detection thresholds than the younger adults. However, EGDT and BGDT were not significantly different in either group. The mean difference between EGDT and BGDT for all subjects was 0.43 msec.

Conclusions: Older adults show poorer gap detection ability when compared to younger adults. However, this study shows that gap detection thresholds can be measured using evoked potential recordings and yield results similar to a behavioral measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Behavioral gap detection
  • Electrophysiological gap detection
  • Gap detection procedures
  • Temporal processing
  • Temporal resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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