Maturation of the cortical auditory evoked potential in infants and young children

Julia Louise Wunderlich, Barbara Katherine Cone-Wesson, Robert Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to evaluate the maturation of the cortical auditory evoked potential (CAEP) in humans. The participants in this experiment were 10 newborns (<7 days), 19 toddlers (13-41 months), 20 children (4-6 years) and 9 adults (18-45 years). CAEPs were obtained in response to low (400 Hz) and high (3000 Hz) tones and to the word token /bæd/, all presented at 60 dB HL, at a rate of 0.22 Hz. Latency and amplitude measures were made for CAEP components P1, N1, P2 and N2 as a function of participant age, stimulus type and electrode montage. CAEP component latencies were relatively stable from birth to 6 years, but adults demonstrated significantly shorter latencies compared to infants and children. Components P1 and N2 decreased in amplitude, while components N1 and P2 increased in amplitude from birth to adulthood. Words evoked significantly larger CAEPs in newborns compared to responses evoked by tones, but in other age groups the effects of stimulus type on component amplitudes and latencies were less consistent. There was evidence of immature tonotopic organisation of the generators of N1 when responses from infants and young children were compared to those of adults. The scalp distribution of components N1 and P2 was clearly different in newborns and toddlers compared to children and adults. In the younger groups, both N1 and P2 were uniformly distributed across the scalp but in children and adults these components showed more focal distributions, with evidence of response laterality increasing with maturity. The results of the present study describe, for the first time, CAEPs recorded from multiple scalp electrodes, for tones and speech stimuli, in infants and children from birth to 6 years of age. Frequency-related differences in component amplitude were apparent at all ages reflecting development of tonotopic organisation of the CAEP neural generators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-202
Number of pages18
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Cortical auditory evoked potential
  • Maturation
  • Scalp topography
  • Tonotopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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