Forward-masked intensity discrimination: Duration effects and spectral effects

Robert S. Schlauch, Nicole Lanthier, Joe Neve

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17 Scopus citations


Three experiments were completed to examine the effect of masker duration and spectrum on forward-masked intensity discrimination. Four listeners participated in each experiment. Intensity discrimination was measured in quiet and in the presence of forward maskers using adaptive forced-choice procedures. The standard duration was either short (10 ms) or long (250 ms) in experiment 1 and short (10 ms) in experiment 2. The standard always occurred 100 ms after the offset of the masker. In the first experiment employing 1.0-kHz maskers and standards, a short duration masker (10 ms) produced more masking than a long duration masker (250 ms). A mid- level elevation of the Weber fraction was observed for all conditions. To ensure that the results of experiment 1 were not influenced by off-frequency listening, the second experiment employed a broadband noise masker. As before, a short duration (10 ms) masker produced more masking than a long duration masker (100 ms) and a mid-level elevation of Weber fractions was observed. This outcome is inconsistent with a peripheral sensory effect for which an increase in masker duration should result in a greater amount of adaptation, and, as a consequence, more masking. A third experiment employing a broadband noise masker and standard showed the greatest amount of masking for low-level standards, but only when the duration of the masker and standard was short. This result is similar to one seen for a single listener in the first experiment for short duration tonal maskers and standards. For this listener, a second tone presented at 4.133 kHz presented simultaneously with the 1.0-kHz masker reduced significantly the amount of masking for low- level standards, but the mid-level elevation of the Weber fraction remained. Taken together, these results suggest that perceptual similarity plays a role in forward-masked intensity discrimination but does not account entirely for the mid-level elevation of the Weber fraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-467
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997


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