Estimates of Human Cochlear Tuning at Low Levels Using Forward and Simultaneous Masking

Andrew J. Oxenham, Christopher A. Shera

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163 Scopus citations


Auditory filter shapes were derived from psychophysical measurements in eight normal-hearing listeners using a variant of the notched-noise method for brief signals in forward and simultaneous masking. Signal frequencies of 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 kHz were tested. The signal level was fixed at 10 dB above absolute threshold in the forward-masking conditions and fixed at either 10 or 35 dB above absolute threshold in the simultaneous-masking conditions. The results show that filter equivalent rectangular bandwidths (ERBs) are substantially narrower in forward masking than has been found in previous studies using simultaneous masking. Furthermore, in contrast to earlier studies, the sharpness of tuning doubles over the range of frequencies tested, giving QERB values of about 10 and 20 at signal frequencies of 1 and 8 kHz, respectively. It is argued that the new estimates of auditory filter bandwidth provide a more accurate estimate of human cochlear tuning at low levels than earlier estimates using simultaneous masking at higher levels, and that they are therefore more suitable for comparison to cochlear tuning data from other species. The data may also prove helpful in defining the parameters for nonlinear models of human cochlear processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-554
Number of pages14
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Auditory filters
  • Cochlear tuning
  • Masking
  • Psychoacoustics


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