Normal-hearing listeners' ability to "hear out" the pitch of a target harmonic complex tone (HCT) was tested with simultaneous HCT or noise maskers, all bandpass-filtered into the same spectral region (1200-3600 Hz). Target-to-masker ratios (TMRs) necessary to discriminate fixed fundamental-frequency (F0) differences were measured for target F0s between 100 and 400 Hz. At high F0s (400 Hz), asynchronous gating of masker and signal, presenting the masker in a different F0 range, and reducing the F0 rove of the masker, all resulted in improved performance. At the low F0s (100 Hz), none of these manipulations improved performance significantly. The findings are generally consistent with the idea that the ability to segregate sounds based on cues such as F0 differences and onset/offset asynchronies can be strongly limited by peripheral harmonic resolvability. However, some cases were observed where perceptual segregation appeared possible, even when no peripherally resolved harmonics were present in the mixture of target and masker. A final experiment, comparing TMRs necessary for detection and F0 discrimination, showed that F0 discrimination of the target was possible with noise maskers at only a few decibels above detection threshold, whereas similar performance with HCT maskers was only possible 15-25 dB above detection threshold.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD Grant No. R01 DC 05216). The authors are grateful to R. P. Carlyon, A. de Cheveigné, and J. H. Grose, for helpful suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript.