Intensity Discrimination In Normal-Hearing And Hearing-Impaired Listeners

Anna C. Schroder, Neal F. Viemeister, David A. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Weber fractions (δ I/I) for gated 500-ms tones at 0.3, 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz, and at levels of the standard ranging from absolute threshold to 97 dB SPL, were measured in quiet and in high-pass noise in five listeners with cochlear hearing loss and in three normal-hearing listeners. In regions of hearing loss, the Weber fractions at a given SPL were sometimes normal. When the Weber fractions were normal or near-normal, the addition of high-pass noise elevated the Weber fraction, strongly suggesting the use of spread of excitation to higher frequencies. Inversely, when the Weber fractions were elevated, the addition of high-pass noise produced no additional elevation, suggesting an inability to use spread of excitation. In general, the relative size of the Weber fractions, the effects of high-pass noise, and to a lesser extent, the dependence of the Weber fraction on level, were consistent with expectations based upon the audiometric configuration and the use of excitation spread. There were several notable inconsistencies, however, in which normal Weber fractions were seen at a frequency on the edge of a steep high-frequency loss, and in which elevated Weber fractions were observed in a flat audiometric configuration. Finally, when compared at the same SL, the Weber fraction was sometimes smaller in cochlear-impaired than in normal hearing listeners. This was true even in high-pass noise, where excitation spread was limited, and may reflect the unusually steep rate versus level functions seen in auditory nerve fibers that innervate regions of pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2683-2693
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1994


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