Volume 115, Issue 1, January 2004
Index of content:
- PSYCHOLOGICAL ACOUSTICS 
115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1631942View Description Hide Description
The detection of a tone added to a random-frequency, multitone masker can be very poor even when the maskers have little energy in the frequency region of the signal. This paper examines the effects of adding a pretrial cue to reduce uncertainty for the masker or the signal. The first two experiments examined the effect of cuing a fixed-frequency signal as the number of masker components and presentation methods were manipulated. Cue effectiveness varied across observers, but could reduce thresholds by as much as 20 dB. Procedural comparisons indicated observers benefited more from having two masker samples to compare, with or without a signal cue, than having a single interval with one masker sample and a signal cue. The third experiment used random-frequency signals and compared no-cue, signal-cue, and masker-cue conditions, and also systematically varied the time interval between cue offset and trial onset. Thresholds with a cued random-frequency signal remained higher than for a cued fixed-frequency signal. For time intervals between the cue and trial of 50 ms or longer, thresholds were approximately the same with a signal or a masker cue and lower than when there was no cue. Without a cue or with a masker cue, analyses of possible decision strategies suggested observers attended to the potential signal frequencies, particularly the highest signal frequency. With a signal cue, observers appeared to attend to the frequency of the subsequent signal.
Within-ear and across-ear interference in a dichotic cocktail party listening task: Effects of masker uncertainty115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1628683View Description Hide Description
Increases in masker variability have been shown to increase the effects of informational masking in non-speech listening tasks, but relatively little is known about the influence that masker uncertainty has on the informational components of speech-on-speech masking. In this experiment, listeners were asked to extract information from a target phrase that was presented in their right ear while ignoring masking phrases that were presented in the same ear as the target phrase and in the ear opposite the target phrase. The level of masker uncertainty was varied by holding constant or “freezing” the talkers speaking the masking phrases, the semantic content used in the masking phrases, or both the talkers and the semantic content in the masking phrases within each block of 120 trials. The results showed that freezing the semantic content of the masking phrase in the target ear was the only reduction in masker uncertainty that ever resulted in a significant improvement in performance. Providing feedback after each trial improved performance overall, but did not prevent the listeners from making incorrect responses that matched the content of the frozen target-ear masking phrase. However, removing the target-ear contents corresponding to the masking phrase from the response set resulted in a dramatic improvement in performance. This suggests that the listeners were generally able to understand both of the phrases presented to the target ear, and that their incorrect responses in the task were almost entirely a result of their inability to determine which words were spoken by the target talker.
Development of a new standard laboratory protocol for estimation of the field attenuation of hearing protection devices: Sample size necessary to provide acceptable reproducibility115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1633559View Description Hide Description
The mandate of ASA Working Group S12/WG11 has been to develop “laboratory and/or field procedure(s) that yield useful estimates of field performance” of hearing protection devices (HPDs). A real-ear attenuation at threshold procedure was selected, devised, tested for one earmuff and three earplugs via an interlaboratory study involving five laboratories and 147 subjects, and incorporated into a new standard that was approved in 1997 [Royster et al., “Development of a new standard laboratory protocol for estimating the field attenuation of hearing protection devices. Part I. Research of Working Group 11, Accredited Standards Committee S12, Noise,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 99, 1506–1526; ANSI, S12.6-1997, “American National Standard method for measuring real-ear attenuation of hearing protectors” (American National Standards Institute, New York, 1997)]. The subject-fit methodology of ANSI S12.6-1997 relies upon listeners who are audiometrically proficient, but inexperienced in the use of HPDs. Whenever a new method is adopted, it is important to know the effects of variability on the power of the measurements. In evaluation of protector noise reduction determined by experimenter-fit, informed-user-fit, and subject-fit methods, interlaboratory reproducibility was found to be best for the subject-fit method. Formulas were derived for determining the minimum detectable difference between attenuation measurements and for determining the number of subjects necessary to achieve a selected level of precision. For a precision of 6 dB, the study found that the minimum number of subjects was 4 for the Bilsom UF-1 earmuff, 10 for the E⋅A⋅R Classic earplug, 31 for the Willson EP100 earplug, and 22 for the PlasMed V-51R earplug.
115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1632484View Description Hide Description
The effect of spatial separation on the ability of human listeners to resolve a pair of concurrent broadband sounds was examined. Stimuli were presented in a virtual auditory environment using individualized outer ear filter functions. Subjects were presented with two simultaneous noise bursts that were either spatially coincident or separated (horizontally or vertically), and responded as to whether they perceived one or two source locations. Testing was carried out at five reference locations on the audiovisual horizon (0°, 22.5°, 45°, 67.5°, and 90° azimuth). Results from experiment 1 showed that at more lateral locations, a larger horizontal separation was required for the perception of two sounds. The reverse was true for vertical separation. Furthermore, it was observed that subjects were unable to separate stimulus pairs if they delivered the same interaural differences in time (ITD) and level (ILD). These findings suggested that the auditory system exploited differences in one or both of the binaural cues to resolve the sources, and could not use monaural spectral cues effectively for the task. In experiments 2 and 3, separation of concurrent noisesources was examined upon removal of low-frequency content (and ITDs), onset/offset ITDs, both of these in conjunction, and all ITD information. While onset and offset ITDs did not appear to play a major role, differences in ongoing ITDs were robust cues for separation under these conditions, including those in the envelopes of high-frequency channels.