Volume 113, Issue 2, February 2003
Index of content:
- PSYCHOLOGICAL ACOUSTICS 
113(2003); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1534838View Description Hide Description
Cochlear nonlinearity was estimated over a wide range of center frequencies and levels in listeners with normal hearing, using a forward-masking method. For a fixed low-level probe, the masker level required to mask the probe was measured as a function of the masker-probe interval, to produce a temporal masking curve (TMC). TMCs were measured for probe frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hz, and for masker frequencies 0.5, 0.7, 0.9, 1.0 (on frequency), 1.1, and 1.6 times the probe frequency. Across the range of probe frequencies, the TMCs for on-frequency maskers showed two or three segments with clearly distinct slopes. If it is assumed that the rate of decay of the internal effect of the masker is constant across level and frequency, the variations in the slopes of the TMCs can be attributed to variations in cochlear compression. Compression-ratio estimates for on-frequency maskers were between 3:1 and 5:1 across the range of probe frequencies. Compression did not decrease at low frequencies. The slopes of the TMCs for the lowest frequency probe (500 Hz) did not change with masker frequency. This suggests that compression extends over a wide range of stimulus frequencies relative to characteristic frequency in the apical region of the cochlea.
113(2003); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1531983View Description Hide Description
Many competing noises in real environments are modulated or fluctuating in level. Listeners with normal hearing are able to take advantage of temporal gaps in fluctuating maskers. Listeners with sensorineural hearing loss show less benefit from modulated maskers. Cochlear implant users may be more adversely affected by modulated maskers because of their limited spectral resolution and by their reliance on envelope-based signal-processing strategies of implant processors. The current study evaluated cochlear implant users’ ability to understand sentences in the presence of modulated speech-shaped noise. Normal-hearing listeners served as a comparison group. Listeners repeated IEEE sentences in quiet, steady noise, and modulated noise maskers. Maskers were presented at varying signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs) at six modulation rates varying from 1 to 32 Hz. Results suggested that normal-hearing listeners obtain significant release from masking from modulated maskers, especially at 8-Hz masker modulation frequency. In contrast, cochlear implant users experience very little release from masking from modulated maskers. The data suggest, in fact, that they may show negative effects of modulated maskers at syllabic modulation rates (2–4 Hz). Similar patterns of results were obtained from implant listeners using three different devices with different speech-processor strategies. The lack of release from masking occurs in implant listeners independent of their device characteristics, and may be attributable to the nature of implant processing strategies and/or the lack of spectral detail in processed stimuli.
113(2003); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1531981View Description Hide Description
An interrupted noise exposure of sufficient intensity, presented on a daily repeating cycle, produces a threshold shift (TS) following the first day of exposure. TSs measured on subsequent days of the exposure sequence have been shown to decrease relative to the initial TS. This reduction of TS, despite the continuing daily exposure regime, has been called a cochlear toughening effect and the exposures referred to as toughening exposures. Four groups of chinchillas were exposed to one of four different noises presented on an interrupted (6 h/day for 20 days) or noninterrupted (24 h/day for 5 days) schedule. The exposures had equivalent total energy, an overall level of 100 dB(A) SPL, and approximately the same flat, broadband long-term spectrum. The noises differed primarily in their temporal structures; two were Gaussian and two were non-Gausssian, nonstationary. Brainstem auditory evoked potentials were used to estimate hearing thresholds and surface preparation histology was used to determine sensory cell loss. The experimental results presented here show that: (1) Exposures to interrupted high-level, non-Gaussian signals produce a toughening effect comparable to that produced by an equivalent interrupted Gaussian noise. (2) Toughening, whether produced by Gaussian or non-Gaussian noise, results in reduced trauma compared to the equivalent uninterrupted noise, and (3) that both continuous and interrupted non-Gaussian exposures produce more trauma than do energy and spectrally equivalent Gaussian noises. Over the course of the 20-day exposure, the pattern of TS following each day’s exposure could exhibit a variety of configurations. These results do not support the equal energy hypothesis as a unifying principal for estimating the potential of a noise exposure to produce hearing loss.
113(2003); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1536631View Description Hide Description
When all of the components in a harmonic complex tone are shifted in frequency by the pitch of the complex shifts roughly in proportion to For tones with a small number of components, the shift is usually somewhat larger than predicted from pitch theories, which has been attributed to the influence of combination tones [Smoorenburg, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 48, 924–941 (1970)]. Experiment 1 assessed whether combination tones influence the pitch of complex tones with more than five harmonics, by using noise to mask the combination tones. The matching stimulus was a harmonic complex. Test complexes were bandpass filtered with passbands centered on harmonic numbers 5 (resolved), 11 (intermediate), or 16 (unresolved) and fundamental frequencies were 100, 200, or 400 Hz. For the intermediate and unresolved conditions, the matching stimuli were filtered with the same passband to minimize differences in the excitation patterns of the test and matching stimuli. For the resolved condition, the matching stimulus had a passband centered above that of the test stimulus, to avoid common partials. For resolved and intermediate conditions, pitch shifts were observed that could generally be predicted from the frequencies of the partials. The shifts were unaffected by addition of noise to mask combination tones. For the unresolved condition, no pitch shift was observed, which suggests that pitch is not based on temporal fine structure for stimuli containing only high unresolved harmonics. Experiment 2 used three-component complexes resembling those of Schouten [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 34, 1418–1424 (1962)]. Nominal harmonic numbers were 3, 4, 5 (resolved), 8, 9, 10 (intermediate), or 13, 14, 15 (unresolved) and were 50, 100, 200, or 400 Hz. Clear shifts in the matches were found for all conditions, including unresolved. For the latter, subjects may have matched the “center of gravity” of the excitation patterns of the test and matching stimuli.
Modulation rate discrimination for unresolved components: Temporal cues related to fine structure and envelope113(2003); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1532004View Description Hide Description
The present study investigated the hypothesis that the cues for modulation rate discrimination for unresolved spectral components differ as a function of the spectral region occupied by the stimuli. Specifically, it was hypothesized that when components occupy relatively low spectral regions, phase locking both to the fine structure and to the envelope are useful cues. However, as the spectral region occupied by the components increases, phase locking to the fine structure becomes less robust, whereas phase locking to the envelope remains as a potentially strong cue. Observers were asked to detect a decrease in modulation rate for carrier frequencies between 1500 and 6000 Hz. Both amplitude-modulated (AM) and quasifrequency-modulated (QFM) tones were used in order to produce stimuli having strong and weak envelope cues, respectively. Although there were marked individual differences, the results showed an interaction between modulation type and spectral region, with AM and QFM performance being relatively similar at low spectral region, but with QFM showing a steeper reduction in performance as the spectral region of the carrier frequency increased. Overall, the data are consistent with an interpretation that pitch perception for unresolved components depends upon both fine structure and envelope cues, and that the relative importance of these cues depends upon the spectral region occupied by the stimuli.