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Temporal resolution in sensorineural hearing-impaired listeners.

  • Nelson, D A
  • Freyman, R L
Published Article
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Acoustical Society of America
Publication Date
Mar 01, 1987
PMID: 3584678


Temporal masking curves were obtained from 12 normal-hearing and 16 hearing-impaired listeners using 200-ms, 1000-Hz pure-tone maskers and 20-ms, 1000-Hz fixed-level probe tones. For the delay times used here (greater than 40 ms), temporal masking curves obtained from both groups can be well described by an exponential function with a single level-independent time constant for each listener. Normal-hearing listeners demonstrated time constants that ranged between 37 and 67 ms, with a mean of 50 ms. Most hearing-impaired listeners, with significant hearing loss at the probe frequency, demonstrated longer time constants (range 58-114 ms) than those obtained from normal-hearing listeners. Time constants were found to grow exponentially with hearing loss according to the function tau = 52e0.011(HL), when the slope of the growth of masking is unity. The longest individual time constant was larger than normal by a factor of 2.3 for a hearing loss of 52 dB. The steep slopes of the growth of masking functions typically observed at long delay times in hearing-impaired listeners' data appear to be a direct result of longer time constants. When iterative fitting procedures included a slope parameter, the slopes of the growth of masking from normal-hearing listeners varied around unity, while those from hearing-impaired listeners tended to be less (flatter) than normal. Predictions from the results of these fixed-probe-level experiments are consistent with the results of previous fixed-masker-level experiments, and they indicate that deficiencies in the ability to detect sequential stimuli should be considerable in hearing-impaired listeners, partially because of extended time constants, but mostly because forward masking involves a recovery process that depends upon the sensory response evoked by the masking stimulus. Large sensitivity losses reduce the sensory response to high SPL maskers so that the recovery process is slower, much like the recovery process for low-level stimuli in normal-hearing listeners.

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