A target within a spectrally notched masker can be enhanced by a preceding copy of the masker. Enhancement can also increase the effectiveness of the target as a forward masker. Enhancement has been reported in hearing-impaired listeners under simultaneous but not forward masking. However, previous studies of enhancement under forward masking did not fully assess the potential effect of differences in sensation level or spectral resolution between the normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners. This study measured enhancement via forward masking in hearing-impaired and age-matched normal-hearing listeners with different spectral notches in the masker, to account for potential differences in frequency selectivity, and with levels equated by adding a background masking noise to equate both sensation level and sound pressure level or by reducing the sound pressure level of the stimuli to equate sensation level. Hearing-impaired listeners showed no significant enhancement, regardless of spectral notch width. Normal-hearing listeners showed enhancement at high levels, but showed less enhancement when sensation levels were reduced to match those of the hearing-impaired group, either by reducing sound levels or by adding a masking noise. The results confirm a lack of forward-masked enhancement in hearing-impaired listeners but suggest this may be partly due to reduced sensation level.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by NIDCD Grant No. R01 DC 012262. We thank Brian C. J. Moore and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. We also extend special thanks to the participants in this study. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.