The precedence effect refers to an auditory phenomenon which occurs when two similar sounds are presented from different locations with a brief delay, and only one sound is heard whose perceived location is dominated by the first source. Although the lagging source is not localized as an independent event, under some conditions, adults are able to extract its directional cues. Developmental studies suggest that this ability changes during development. However, those studies have used stimulus configurations which minimize the measurement of that ability. In the present study adults were first tested under several conditions, and the one which produced optimal performance was chosen for testing children. Using the minimum audible angle (MAA) task in the azimuthal plane, performance was compared for a single-source condition and two precedence conditions: in lag discrimination the lagging source changed location while the lead remained at midline, and in lead discrimination the reverse occurred. Subjects were 18 months old, 5 years old, and adult. Significant improvements in MAA occurred with an increase in age, especially in the precedence conditions. Within each group, performance was significantly better in single-source condition, followed by the lead and the lag discrimination.

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