An analysis of psychophysical tuning curves in normal and pathological ears

Arlene Earley Carney, David A. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Simultaneous psychophysical tuning curves were obtained from normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners, using probe tones that were either at similar sound pressure levels or at similar sensation levels for the two types of listeners. Tuning curves from the hearing-impaired listeners were flat, erratic, broad, and/or inverted, depending upon the frequency region of the probe tone and the frequency characteristics of the hearing loss. Tuning curves from the normal-hearing listeners at low-SPL’s were sharp as expected; tuning curves at high-SPL’s were discontinuous. An analysis of high-SPL tuning curves suggests that tuning curves from normal-hearing listeners reflect low-pass filter characteristics instead of the sharp bandpass filter characteristics seen with low-SPL probe tones. Tuning curves from hearing-impaired listeners at high-SPL probe levels appear to reflect similar low-pass filter characteristics, but with much more gradual high-frequency slopes than in the normal ear. This appeared as abnormal downward spread of masking. Relatively good temporal resolution and broader tuning mechanisms were proposed to explain inverted tuning curves in the hearing-impaired listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-278
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1983


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