Postnatal development of absolute auditory thresholds in kittens

J Comp Physiol Psychol. 1981 Apr;95(2):304-11. doi: 10.1037/h0077770.


Postnatal development of absolute auditory thresholds in the kitten was behaviorally measured from birth up to 1 mo of age. Unconditioned reactions to pure tones were observed for kittens up to Day 12, and conditioned responses were used for animals from Day 10 onward. At 1 day after birth, the first noticeable responses were obtained in 4 of 11 kittens at frequencies of .5-2 kHZ. At 2 days of age, 12 of 16 kittens responded. Thresholds remained high (above 100 dB SPL) up to the sixth day, but the range of behaviorally effective frequencies extended from .2 to 6 kHZ. All conditioned response thresholds at Day 10 and most at Day 12 were significantly lower than those measured by unconditioned reactions. From 10 days onward, all threshold curves showed a characteristic sensitivity optimum at 4 kHZ. For frequencies below 1 kHZ, maximum sensitivity was reached at Day 15; for frequencies up to 20 kHZ, at Day 20; and for even higher frequencies, at Day 30. At 1 mo of age, the frequency range is adultlike. The present behavioral results on developing acoustic function in the kitten closely followed structural maturation of the acoustic pathway and demonstrated limitations of the ability for acoustical communication during the first week of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Cats
  • Loudness Perception
  • Pitch Perception