The auditory CNS is influenced profoundly by sounds heard during development. Auditory deprivation and augmented sound exposure can each perturb the maturation of neural computations as well as their underlying synaptic properties. However, we have learned little about the emergence of perceptual skills in these same model systems, and especially how perception is influenced by early acoustic experience. Here, we argue that developmental studies must take greater advantage of behavioral benchmarks. We discuss quantitative measures of perceptual development and suggest how they can play a much larger role in guiding experimental design. Most importantly, including behavioral measures will allow us to establish empirical connections among environment, neural development, and perception.
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