Loudness Context Effects in Normal-Hearing Listeners and Cochlear-Implant Users

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10 Scopus citations


Context effects in loudness have been observed in normal auditory perception and may reflect a general gain control of the auditory system. However, little is known about such effects in cochlear-implant (CI) users. Discovering whether and how CI users experience loudness context effects should help us better understand the underlying mechanisms. In the present study, we examined the effects of a long-duration (1-s) intense precursor on the loudness relations between shorter-duration (200-ms) target and comparison stimuli. The precursor and target were separated by a silent gap of 50 ms, and the target and comparison were separated by a silent gap of 2 s. For normal-hearing listeners, the stimuli were narrowband noises; for CI users, all stimuli were delivered as pulse trains directly to the implant. Significant changes in loudness were observed in normal-hearing listeners, in line with earlier studies. The CI users also experienced some loudness changes but, in contrast to the results from normal-hearing listeners, the effect did not increase with increasing level difference between precursor and target. A “dual-process” hypothesis, used to explain earlier data from normal-hearing listeners, may provide an account of the present data by assuming that one of the two mechanisms, involving “induced loudness reduction,” was absent or reduced in CI users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-545
Number of pages11
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by NIH grant R01 DC012262. Author NW was supported by Advanced Bionics and by a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Association for Research in Otolaryngology.


  • auditory context effects
  • cochlear implants
  • loudness enhancement
  • loudness recalibration


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