Maturation of sensory gating performance in children with and without sensory processing disorders

Patricia L. Davies, Wen Pin Chang, William J. Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Recent interest in sensory gating in children with and without neuropsychological disorders has resulted in a number of studies and the results regarding the developmental trajectory of sensory gating are inconsistent. We investigated the maturational course of sensory gating in samples of typically developing children and children with sensory processing deficits (SPD) and compared their performance to adults. Besides gating ratios, we also examined the brain responses to conditioning and test click stimuli in the sensory gating paradigm separately to clarify if the changes in click amplitudes could explain the maturational change in the T/C ratio in children. Eighteen adults with no known disorders, 25 typical children, and 28 children with SPD participated in this study. The children ranged in ages between 5 and 12 years. The three groups differed in their P50 and N100 ERP components. Both child groups displayed significantly less gating than the adults. Children with SPD demonstrated significantly less gating and more within-group variability compared to typical children. There were significant relationships between age and T/C ratios and between age and peak-to-peak amplitude of the conditioning click in typical children but not in children with SPD. Typical children demonstrated significantly smaller brain response amplitudes to the clicks as compared to adults. These findings suggest that there is a maturational course of sensory gating in typical children and if there is a maturational trajectory in children with SPD it appears to be different than typical children. In addition, children with SPD were found to be lacking in their ability to filter out repeated auditory input and failed to selectively regulate their sensitivity to sensory stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-197
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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