Effects of noise precursors on the detection of amplitude and frequency modulation for tones in noise

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Recent studies on amplitude modulation (AM) detection for tones in noise reported that AM-detection thresholds improve when the AM stimulus is preceded by a noise precursor. The physiological mechanisms underlying this AM unmasking are unknown. One possibility is that adaptation to the level of the noise precursor facilitates AM encoding by causing a shift in neural rate-level functions to optimize level encoding around the precursor level. The aims of this study were to investigate whether such a dynamic-range adaptation is a plausible mechanism for the AM unmasking and whether frequency modulation (FM), thought to be encoded via AM, also exhibits the unmasking effect. Detection thresholds for AM and FM of tones in noise were measured with and without a fixed-level precursor. Listeners showing the unmasking effect were then tested with the precursor level roved over a wide range to modulate the effect of adaptation to the precursor level on the detection of the subsequent AM. It was found that FM detection benefits from a precursor and the magnitude of FM unmasking correlates with that of AM unmasking. Moreover, consistent with dynamic-range adaptation, the unmasking magnitude weakens as the level difference between the precursor and simultaneous masker of the tone increases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3581-3597
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

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