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Individual Differences in the Temporal Processing of Neurotypical Children and Adults
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Sensory signals from different modalities presented close in time and space are often integrated, building a multisensory perceptual world. A better understanding of the multisensory integration requires characterization of how the nervous system processes time. There are very few studies that have focused on the development and individual variabilities in temporal aspects of sensory processing in neurotypical population. Using a temporal order judgement task (TOJ), this study explored individual differences in the temporal processing of unisensory (auditory, tactile, and visual) and multisensory (auditory-visual, visual-tactile, and auditory-tactile) stimuli in neurotypical children, young adult, and adult. In addition, we examined whether precision of the temporal processing in these TOJ tasks can be influenced by participants’ age, intelligence, and sensory responsiveness profiles. Performance in each of the unisensory TOJ tasks, measured in temporal order threshold (JND) and reaction time (RT) showed significant improvement with age, while the most significant improvement observed in the visual TOJ task. Multiple regression models did not find any significant predictor of JND or RT except for the age. Analysis of multisensory TOJ tasks with a small group of adult participants did not demonstrate any influence of age or task on threshold (JND), point of subjective simultaneity (PSS), or temporal binding window (TBW). However, RTs in the auditory-visual and auditory-tactile tasks were significantly different. TBW in the auditory-visual task and PSS in the auditory-tactile task were significantly predicted by sensory responsive patterns of the participants. In addition, JND comparison between unisensory and multisensory tasks revealed better performance of the adult participants in the unisensory tasks. We conclude (1) temporal order threshold improves with age from childhood to adulthood, and (2) sensory responsiveness pattern, to some extends, predict temporal acuity in the multisensory TOJ task.