Effects of auditory enhancement on the loudness of masker and target components

Ningyuan Wang, Andrew J Oxenham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Auditory enhancement refers to the observation that the salience of one spectral region (the "signal") of a broadband sound can be enhanced and can "pop out" from the remainder of the sound (the "masker") if it is preceded by the broadband sound without the signal. The present study investigated auditory enhancement as an effective change in loudness, to determine whether it reflects a change in the loudness of the signal, the masker, or both. In the first experiment, the 500-ms precursor, an inharmonic complex with logarithmically spaced components, was followed after a 50-ms gap by the 100-ms signal or masker alone, the loudness of which was compared with that of the same signal or masker presented 2 s later. In the second experiment, the loudness of the signal embedded in the masker was assessed with and without a precursor using the same method, as was the loudness of the entire signal-plus-masker complex. The results suggest that the precursor does not affect the loudness of the signal or the masker alone, but enhances the loudness of the signal in the presence of the masker, while leaving the loudness of the surrounding masker unaffected. The results are consistent with an explanation based on "adaptation of inhibition".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-156
Number of pages7
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant R01 DC012262 (award to AJO). Author NW was supported by Advanced Bionics and by a Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Auditory context effects
  • Auditory enhancement
  • Loudness context effects


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