Auditory enhancement under simultaneous masking in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired listeners

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Auditory enhancement, where a target sound within a masker is rendered more audible by the prior presentation of the masker alone, may play an important role in auditory perception under variable everyday acoustic conditions. Cochlear hearing loss may reduce enhancement effects, potentially contributing to the difficulties experienced by hearing-impaired (HI) individuals in noisy and reverberant environments. However, it remains unknown whether, and by how much, enhancement under simultaneous masking is reduced in HI listeners. Enhancement of a pure tone under simultaneous masking with a multi-tone masker was measured in HI listeners and age-matched normal-hearing (NH) listeners as function of the spectral notch width of the masker, using stimuli at equal sensation levels as well as at equal sound pressure levels, but with the stimuli presented in noise to the NH listeners to maintain the equal sensation level between listener groups. The results showed that HI listeners exhibited some enhancement in all conditions. However, even when conditions were made as comparable as possible, in terms of effective spectral notch width and presentation level, the enhancement effect in HI listeners under simultaneous masking was reduced relative to that observed in NH listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-910
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

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